WEST PALM BEACH — The 4th District Court of Appeal has reversed a slander of title ruling and a money-lent judgment made by Broward County Circuit Court for the 17th Judicial Circuit in favor of Lenos Trigeorgis and against his son, George Trigeorgis, respectively.
The court argued that George Trigeorgis failed to "establish all of the elements for a slander of title claim" and reversed and remanded the money lent judgment for "recalculation of the prejudgment interest."
Both invested in a condominium in 2009. Originally, the plan was for Lenos Trigeorgis to fund the purchase and put it in George Trigeorgis's name. The father put together a loan agreement for $231,000, and at the time of purchase, the son had yet to sign the agreement, according to information in the ruling.
George bought the condo for $185,000. Nearly 15 months afterward, George Trigeorgis signed the agreement stating he borrowed $187,908 from Lenos Trigeorgis and would repay the loan over three years with eight percent interest, information in the ruling states. If he failed to repay the loan in that time period, Lenos Trigeorgis would become the owner of the property.
Shortly thereafter, the two had a falling out and George Trigeorgis decided to sell the condo. After finding out George Trigeorgis had listed the property, Lenos Trigeorgis filed a notice of interest in real property in the public records, thereby disallowing him to sell the condo alone.
The court ruled that George Trigeorgis needed to prove multiple elements to be able to pursue a slander of title claim against his father. According to the opinion, a falsehood must be published or communicated to a third person, those falsehoods need to induce a disinterest in doing business with George, and special damages must arise from the falsehood.
Since Lenos Trigeorgis attached the agreement bearing both men's signatures to the notice of intent, the court argued that it did not constitute a falsehood.
Even if it were false, the agreement did not deter anyone from conducting business with George Trigeorgis, the court reasoned.
"[George] presented no specific evidence showing how the notice of interest played a material and substantial part in inducing others not to deal with him," the court's opinion states.
The court also ruled that the trial court's awarding damages "under the guise of prejudgment interest was incorrect" and remanded the total amount owed to Lenos.
Judge Dorian Damoorgian gave the opinion of the court March 28 with Judges Carole Taylor and Melanie May concurring.