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Norman v. Jaimes

Florida Court of Appeals, Fourth District

July 31, 2019

ALINE NORMAN, Appellant,
v.
JANNE JAIMES, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit, Okeechobee County; Laurie E. Buchanan, Judge; L.T. Case No. 472013CA000447.

          Colin M. Cameron of Colin M. Cameron, P.A., Okeechobee, for appellant.

          No appearance for appellee.

          Gerber, J.

         A home property seller appeals from the circuit court's final judgment, which effectively awarded the seller's property to the buyer on the basis that the seller failed to disclose a recorded lien encumbering the property. The seller argues that the buyer was on constructive notice of the recorded lien, and that the circuit court's final judgment improperly modified the parties' contract by allowing the buyer to pay only a small portion of the property's purchase price, while depriving the seller of the property's full value and the agreed-upon interest to be paid over time.

         We agree with the seller's arguments. While we respect the circuit court's described motivation "to do equity between the parties," the only legally proper result of this action was to enter final judgment in the seller's favor on both the buyer's complaint and the seller's counterclaim.

We present this opinion in three parts:
1. the circuit court's findings of fact;
2. the circuit court's conclusions of law; and
3. our review.

         1. The Circuit Court's Findings of Fact

         We present the circuit court's findings of fact in the final judgment to the extent such findings are supported by competent, substantial evidence. See Acoustic Innovations, Inc. v. Schafer, 976 So.2d 1139, 1143 (Fla. 4th DCA 2008) ("When a decision in a non-jury trial is based on findings of fact from disputed evidence, it is reviewed on appeal for competent, substantial evidence."). Other record facts are included below where necessary to provide a complete picture of the material facts.

         The parties entered into an agreement for deed ("the contract"). The contract provided that the buyer would purchase the property from the seller for $85, 000 plus 10% interest (later adjusted to 9%), to be paid with a $5, 000 down payment and monthly payments of $650 per month. The contract further provided that upon the buyer making the payments set forth above, the seller would deliver clear title to the buyer. The contract required the buyer to pay all ...


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