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De Soleil South Beach Residential Condominium Association, Inc. v. De Soleil South Beach Association, Inc.

Florida Court of Appeals, Third District

January 15, 2020

De Soleil South Beach Residential Condominium Association, Inc., Appellant,
v.
De Soleil South Beach Association, Inc., etc., et al., Appellees.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

          An Appeal from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County Lower Tribunal No. 16-22052, Jose M. Rodriguez, Judge.

          The Monestime Firm, and Regine Monestime; Law Offices of Jason Gordon, P.A., and Jason Gordon (Hollywood), for appellant.

          Genovese Joblove & Battista, P.A., and Richard Sarafan and Michael Bild; Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson, P.A., and Jason S. Koslowe, Joshua A. Munn, and Olivia Sanchez, for appellees.

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

          EMAS, C.J.

         INTRODUCTION

         De Soleil South Beach Residential Condominium Association, Inc. ("the Condominium Association") appeals the trial court's entry of summary judgment and dismissal of the declaratory action below in favor of De Soleil South Beach Association, Inc. ("the Master Association"), South Beach Resort Development, LLC ("the Corporate Developer"), and Louis Taic ("the Individual Developer") upon a determination that the Condominium Association lacked standing to sue the parties by failing to satisfy a condition precedent contained in the Declaration of Condominium.

         We reverse in part, holding that the trial court erred in concluding that the Master Association had standing to assert, as an affirmative defense, the condition precedent contained in the Condominium Association's governing Declaration. However, because the condition precedent could be asserted by the Individual Developer and the Corporate Developer, we affirm the trial court's summary judgment entered in their favor. We also find no abuse of discretion in the trial court's denial of the Condominium Association's request for a stay or abatement.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         In 2006, the Individual and Corporate Developers completed the condominium's building structure that is today operated in part by the Condominium Association. The Individual Developer and the Corporate Developer then recorded a Master Declaration, thereby creating the entity Master Association. They also recorded a Condominium Declaration, thereby creating the Condominium Association. These documents describe the condominium's building facilities as comprised of three parcels: the garage parcel; the first-floor commercial parcel; and the condominium parcel of units owned and inhabited by residents.

         By the terms of its governing document, the Master Association's board consists solely of the owners of these three parcels: the Corporate Developer, as owner of both the garage and commercial parcels, and the Condominium Association, an entity governed by a board and a membership consisting of the owners of eighty condominium units. The Corporate Developer owns twelve of the eighty units and is, therefore, a member of the Condominium Association. Under its governing document, the Condominium Association is responsible for the collection of certain assessments on behalf of the Master Association. The Individual Developer is not a member of the Master Association or the Condominium Association, but an owner and officer of the Corporate Developer and past member of the Condominium Association's board, whose standing is conceded by the Condominium Association to be the same as that of the Corporate Developer.

         In 2016, the Condominium Association sought declaratory judgment and other relief against the Master Association, the Corporate Developer, and the Individual Developer, arguing that the Individual and Corporate Developers structured the platting and governing documents of the Master Association and the Condominium Association in such a way as to avoid compliance with Florida's Condominium Act. The complaint's gravamen was primarily that the Master Association had, pursuant to a recent amendment of its governing document, given itself power to directly levy and collect assessments from the Condominium Association's members, reaching around the Condominium Association's purportedly exclusive statutory and contractual power to do so. In light of the Master Association's three-votes board, two of which votes were currently in the Corporate Developer's and the Individual Developers' hands, the Condominium Association's powers were allegedly at the mercy of entities that did not represent condominium owners.

         The Master Association moved for summary judgment on the Condominium Association's operative complaint, asserting that the Condominium Association lacked standing to sue, since it had failed to obtain a three-fourths, authorizing vote by its members, pursuant to its own governing declaration, a purported condition precedent. The Corporate Developer also filed a motion for summary judgment, but failed to include the authorizing vote issue. The Individual Developer orally joined the Corporate Developer's motion. Opposing the motions, the Condominium Association unsuccessfully responded that the authorizing vote was not a condition precedent and, even if it was, a stay-not a dismissal-was required, since it did not operate as a bar in favor of the Master Association, which is not a member of the Condominium Association. Explicitly finding that neither the Corporate nor Individual Developer actually joined the argument, the trial court nevertheless found ...


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