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Summary Judgment Affirmed in Favor of Landlord in Dispute with Tenant

Posted on: April 9, 2013

A trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Spurrier Investments, Inc. (“Landlord”) on LK Group Holding Company’s (“Tenant”) counterclaim for wrongful eviction. Tenant based the counterclaim on the fact that a default judgment of eviction previously obtained by Landlord had been reversed on appeal. The reversal was due to the trial court’s failure to allow Tenant to pay into the court registry an amount determined by the court for the disputed amount of rents pursuant to Florida Statute § 83.232(1).

An eviction must be wrongful for a tenant to bring an action against a landlord. Here, the trial court did not find that Tenant was wrongfully evicted. Landlord followed all necessary procedures, but the trial judge failed to make a necessary determination of the amount Tenant needed to deposit into the court registry.

Adelhelm v. Dougherty, 176 So. 775 (Fla. 1937) was cited by Tenant for the proposition that the eviction was ipso facto wrongful after the reversal of the judgment. Adelhelm was distinguishable because the landlord there knew that the underlying judgment was set aside. Here, Tenant never alleged that Landlord convinced the trial court to enter the default judgment with a bad faith or frivolous legal argument, or attempted to dispossess Tenant with anything other than a judgment of eviction obtained through due legal process. Tenant alleged no underlying wrongful conduct of Landlord beyond that of being the winning recipient of a judgment which was later reversed because of an error by the trial court.

The Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s finding because the complaint and Tenant’s response to the motion for summary judgment failed to allege a legally sufficient factual basis for “unlawfulness” of the eviction, or any “wrongdoing” on the part of Landlord in procuring the eviction.

Commercial lease agreements are often complex and require a keen eye to fully understand all of the nuances addressed in the same. Schecter law has represented landlords and tenants in connection with disputes arising out of the leasing of commercial properties since 1976.