Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Florida High School Athletic Association, Inc. v. Johnson

Florida Court of Appeals, Third District

September 17, 2019

Florida High School Athletic Association, Inc., Appellant,
v.
Luther Johnson, IV, etc., et al., Appellees.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

          An Appeal from non-final orders from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County Lower Tribunal No. 19-23245, Reemberto Diaz, Judge.

          Clayton-Johnston, P.A., and Leonard E. Ireland, Jr. (Gainesville), for appellant.

          Law Office of Mark V. Murray, and Mark V. Murray (Tallahassee); Law Office of Terry P. Roberts, and Terry P. Roberts (Tallahassee); Rawsi Williams Law Group, and Rawsi Williams; Kaire & Heffernan, LLC, and David R. Heffernan, for appellees.

          Before EMAS, C.J., and SALTER and SCALES, JJ.

          SCALES, J.

         Appellant, the defendant below, Florida High School Athletic Association, Inc. ("FHSAA"), appeals an August 20, 2019 non-final order denying its motion to transfer venue of the instant action to Alachua County.[1] FHSAA also appeals an August 20, 2019 non-final order granting a temporary injunction of favor of appellees, plaintiffs below, Luther Johnson, IV, Antionette Johnson and Luther Johnson, V. For the following reasons, we affirm the venue order, and reverse and remand the temporary injunction order with instructions.

         I. RELEVANT FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         FHSAA declared Luther Johnson, V ineligible to participate in interscholastic athletic competitions during Johnson's senior year in high school because of Johnson's alleged unsportsmanlike conduct while playing high school lacrosse in the spring of 2019. After pursuing administrative remedies, Johnson and his parents filed the instant action in the Miami-Dade County Circuit Court. The verified complaint seeks emergency injunctive relief and damages against FHSAA, alleging claims for racial discrimination under Florida's Educational Equity Act (Count I), denial of equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Federal Constitution (Count II), denial of due process rights (Count III), and defamation per se (Count IV). The Johnsons also filed an emergency motion for a temporary restraining order seeking to enjoin FHSAA's suspension of Johnson from participating in interscholastic sports. FHSAA filed a motion, with supporting affidavits, to transfer venue to Alachua County. The motions were filed before any answer or affirmative defenses were filed by FHSAA.

         On August 20, 2019, the trial court held an evidentiary hearing on both FHSAA's motion to transfer venue to Alachua County, and the Johnsons' emergency motion for a temporary restraining order against FHSAA. Because no court reporter was present at the evidentiary hearing, there is no hearing transcript. The same day, following the evidentiary hearing, the trial court entered separate orders denying FHSAA's motion to transfer venue and granting a temporary injunction. FHSAA appeals both non-final orders. For the following reasons, we affirm the venue order and reverse the temporary injunction order.

         II. ANALYSIS

         1. The Venue Order

         "[W]hen a trial court is presented with a motion to transfer venue based on the impropriety of the plaintiff's venue selection, the defendant is arguing that, as a matter of law, the lawsuit has been filed in the wrong forum." Tobin v. A&F Eng'g, 979 So.2d 967, 968 (Fla. 3d DCA 2008) (quoting PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP v. Cedar Res., Inc., 761 So.2d 1131, 1133 (Fla. 2d DCA 1999)). Where the facts relating to such venue motion are in dispute, the trial court shall hold an evidentiary hearing to resolve the factual dispute and then make a legal determination on venue. Id.; see also Fla. Gamco, Inc. v. Fontaine, 68 So.3d 923, 928 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011). We review the trial court's factual determinations to assure they are supported by competent, substantial evidence; we review the trial court's legal determinations de novo. See Fla. Gamco, Inc., 68 So.3d at 928.

         The applicable venue statute in this case is section 47.051 of the Florida Statutes (2019), which provides, in relevant part, that "[a]ctions against domestic corporations shall be brought only in the county where such corporation has, or usually keeps, an office for transaction of its customary business, where the cause of action accrued, or where the property in litigation is located." (Emphasis added). Because FHSAA provided affidavits controverting the complaint's allegations relevant to where the underlying causes of action accrued, the burden shifted to the Johnsons to prove that venue lies in the Miami-Dade County Circuit Court. See Fla. Gamco, Inc., 68 So.3d at 928. The record before us at this preliminary stage of the case[2] reflects, and the parties are in agreement, that the lower court conducted an evidentiary hearing at which the parties introduced testimony and other evidence. Because, however, we do not have the benefit of a hearing transcript, we are unable to determine either whether the factual determinations made by the trial court at the evidentiary hearing are supported by competent, substantial evidence, or whether the trial ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.