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MacKenzie v. Homes

Florida Court of Appeals, Fifth District

November 1, 2019

Sara R. MACKENZIE and Ralph MacKenzie, Appellants/Cross Appellees,
v.
CENTEX HOMES, a Nevada General Partnership, BY CENTEX REAL ESTATE CORPORATION, a Nevada Corporation, Sullivan Ranch Homeowners Association, Inc., a Florida Corporation, et al., Appellees/Cross Appellants.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Lake County, William G. Law, Jr., Judge.

         Sara R. MacKenzie, Mount Dora, Appellants/Cross Appellees.

         Ronald D. Edwards, Jr., of Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed, P.A., Orlando, for Appellees/Cross Appellants, Centex Homes, a Nevada General Partnership, by Centex Real Estate Corporation, a Nevada Corporation.

          No Appearance for other Appellees/Cross Appellants.

         OPINION

         SASSO, J.

          Sara R. MacKenzie and Ralph MacKenzie challenge the trial court’s final judgment and amended final judgment entered on their three-count complaint against Centex Homes, a Nevada General Partnership, by Centex Real Estate Corporation, a Nevada Corporation ("Centex"), and Sullivan Ranch Homeowners Association, Inc., a Florida Corporation ("the HOA"). Although the trial court granted the MacKenzies’ request for attorney’s fees on count II, they argue the trial court erred in reducing their requested attorney’s fees and costs and in failing to apply a contingency fee multiplier on that count. Centex cross-appeals the portion of the final judgment declining to award it attorney’s fees as the prevailing party on counts I and III, for alleged discovery violations, and as assignee of the HOA’s entitlement to attorney’s fees. We reverse that portion of the final judgment declining to award Centex prevailing party attorney’s fees on count III. In all other respects, we affirm without further discussion.

         The MacKenzies reside in the Sullivan Ranch residential development, which was developed by Centex. In April 2015, they filed a three-count, fifth amended complaint against Centex and the HOA. Although each count sought a declaration of the parties’ rights under the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions ("the Declaration"),[1] each count requested distinct relief.[2]

         In July 2015, the trial court dismissed count III with prejudice, reserving jurisdiction to award attorney’s fees and costs. Subsequently, the trial court rendered summary final judgment against the MacKenzies on the remaining two counts, again reserving jurisdiction to award attorney’s fees and costs. The MacKenzies appealed the summary final judgment as to count II only. In MacKenzie v. Centex Homes, 208 So.3d 790 (Fla. 5th DCA 2016), this Court reversed the summary

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final judgment on count II and remanded for further proceedings.

         Upon remand, the trial court held several hearings regarding the parties’ competing requests for attorney’s fees pursuant to the Declaration and relevant statutory fee provisions. It determined that the MacKenzies were the prevailing party on count II, which it determined was the significant issue in the case, and that Centex and the HOA were the prevailing parties on count III.[3] Though it awarded fees to the MacKenzies on count II, it declined to award fees to Centex on count III, finding that count III was an ...


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