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Harvard Financial Services, LLC v. Remy-Calixte

Florida Court of Appeals, Third District

September 25, 2019

Harvard Financial Services, LLC, RJR Charitable Holdings, LLC, and Tessa Iacoboni, Appellants,
Astra Remy-Calixte, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

          Appeals from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County Lower Tribunal Nos. 07-13137, 16-7194, 16-2863, Jacqueline Hogan Scola, Judge.

          Law Offices of Paul Morris, P.A., and Paul Morris; Beighley, Myrick, Udell & Lynne, and Maury L. Udell; Roniel Rodriguez, IV, for appellants.

          Ritter Chusid, LLP, and Shawn R. Horwick, and Gary S. Rosner (Coral Springs), for appellee.

          Before SALTER, FERNANDEZ, and LINDSEY, JJ.

          LINDSEY, J.

         Harvard Financial, RJR Charitable Holdings, and Tessa Iacoboni appeal an order granting Remy-Calixte's two motions for relief pursuant to Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.540 and her motion for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, we reverse[1].

         I. BACKGROUND

         This appeal arises from a 2007 foreclosure action (the "2007 Foreclosure Action") that Residential Funding Company brought against Derrick Marbles, Ramon Garcia, and Janice Gessa, three owners of a residential property in Biscayne Park (the "Property"). The procedural history is extensive.[2] We set forth in detail the relevant record facts as follows.

         Shortly after the 2007 Foreclosure Action was filed, three separate money judgments were entered against Marbles. In the 2007 Foreclosure Action, the trial court entered final summary judgment (the "2007 Foreclosure Judgment") in favor of Residential, and Residential purchased the Property at a foreclosure sale. After learning that Marbles, Garcia, and Gessa did not receive notice of the sale, Residential moved to vacate the sale, certificate of sale, and certificate of title. Residential did not move to vacate the 2007 Foreclosure Judgment. The court granted Residential's motion but also vacated the 2007 Foreclosure Judgment by way of an order entered January 31, 2008 (the "January 2008 Vacatur Order"). Over one year later, on July 29, 2009, the court dismissed the 2007 Foreclosure Action for lack of prosecution (the "July 2009 Dismissal Order").[3]

         Nearly four months after the trial court entered the July 2009 Dismissal Order, Residential filed a motion to reschedule the foreclosure sale. The trial court granted this motion. Residential, again the highest bidder, obtained certificate of title.[4]Residential then executed a special warranty deed to Wells Fargo; Wells Fargo executed a special warranty deed to Providence Investment Group; and in December 2012, Providence executed a warranty deed to Remy-Calixte, the appellee.

         In February 2015, Gessa and Garcia (two of the three original owners of the Property) transferred their interest to appellant RJR Charitable Holdings. In October 2015, two of the three 2007 money judgments against Marbles were assigned to Harvard Financial, also an appellant herein. Harvard sought and obtained in the trial court an order directing the levy and sale of the Property.

         In February 2016, in a new civil action, Remy-Calixte, represented by counsel retained by the title insurer, sought to enjoin the sheriff's sale. Harvard filed an action for declaratory relief and to foreclose its judgment lien on Marbles's interest in the Property. Harvard was later joined by cross-claimant Tessa Iacoboni, the remaining party with a 2007 money judgment against Marbles. The circuit court granted Remy-Calixte's motion to stay the foreclosure sale, which was affirmed on appeal. Both cases-Remy-Calixte's injunction action and Harvard/Iacoboni's foreclosure action-were then consolidated below.

         Remy-Calixte moved for summary judgment seeking to quiet title. She also filed two motions pursuant to Rule 1.540 seeking to vacate (1) the January 2008 Vacatur Order (which vacated the 2007 Foreclosure Judgment) and (2) the July 2009 Dismissal Order (which dismissed the 2007 Foreclosure Action) for lack of prosecution. In March 2017, the circuit court entered final summary judgment in favor of Remy-Calixte, finding that she was the successor in interest to Residential and an innocent bona fide purchaser for value. The court also granted Remy-Calixte's two Rule 1.540 motions, finding (1) that the January 2008 Vacatur Order was a clerical error and the portion of that order ...

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