Florida Record

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Appeals panel partially reverses decision in class certification

Lawsuits

By Kyla Asbury | Mar 11, 2020

Solivita
Solivita Homes | floridarealtymarketplace.com

LAKELAND — A three-judge panel partially reversed a decision by a lower court wherein the court limited class certification.

Judges Anthony Black, Susan Rothstein-Youakim and Andrew Atkinson found that the court made a mistake in narrowing the class to only current Solivita homeowners in one of the counts, which is why it partially reversed the order.

The panel affirmed the cross-appeal by AV Homes and Avatar Properties and did not go into detail on that account, according to an opinion filed Feb. 21.

"The class, certified only against Avatar Properties and not AV Homes, should include current homeowners in the Solivita community who paid Club membership fees pursuant to the Club Plan on or after April 26, 2013, for counts II, V, and VI (as to the alleged direct violation of section 720.308) and current and former homeowners in the Solivita community who paid Club membership fees pursuant to the Club Plan on or after April 26, 2013, for count VIII," Black wrote. "The order is otherwise affirmed in all respects."

Norman Gundel, William Mann and Brenda Taylor filed suit against the defendants for violations of the Florida Homeowners' Association Act (HOA Act) and the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA). The residents filed an amended motion for class certification in 2018 and the lower court certified a narrow class in only four of the claims made in the complaint, according to the opinion.

The panel found that while it was appropriate for the lower court to limit the class to current homeowners for three of the counts, it was not necessary for the fourth one.

On Count VIII, which sought damages based on a violation of section 720.308 of the HOA Act, the three-judge panel found that the class should also involve former homeowners.

The case was partially reversed and remanded for further proceedings.

Florida Second District Court of Appeal case number 2D18-3199

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Florida Second District Court of Appeal

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