A recent appellate decision out of Florida’s Sixth District Court of Appeal holds that a trial court’s denial of motion to dissolve a lis pendens does NOT automatically give a basis for a petition for a writ of certiorari. Generalized allegations of “irreparable harm” to support the basis for the petition for writ of certiorari are insufficient.  Rather, the party moving for the petition MUST clearly demonstrate the irreparable harm; otherwise, the petition for writ of certiorari will fail.

A lis pendens has legal significance.  It is a recorded document that notifies the world that there is a pending lawsuit dealing with the real property at issue.  This is important because who wants to buy a piece of property that is subject to litigation – that would be a risky transaction!

In CPPB, LLC v. Taurus Apopka City Center, LLC, 48 Fla.L.Weekly D1837a (Fla. 6th DCA 2023), a dispute arose as to a real estate transaction. The owner sold a parcel to a buyer.  The owner also owned three adjacent parcels. As part of the transaction, the buyer agreed to perform certain improvements to all of the parcels including those adjacent parcels owned by the owner. The owner deposited funds in escrow for purposes of its share of the improvements. A payment dispute arose regarding the improvements and the buyer sued the seller. The seller filed a counterclaim to rescind the transaction along with a recorded lis pendens on the parcel purchased by the buyer. The buyer moved to dissolve the lis pendens which the trial court denied. This prompted the appeal – a petition for a write of certiorari based on the trial court’s denial of the motion to dissolve the lis pendens.

The Sixth District explained that a petition for a writ of certiorari is an extraordinary remedy which may ONLY be granted on when the following are established:

“(1) a departure from the essential requirements of the law, (2) resulting in material injury for the remainder of the case (3) that cannot be corrected on postjudgment appeal.” “A finding that the petitioning party has ‘suffered an irreparable harm that cannot be remedied on direct appeal’ is a ‘condition precedent to invoking a district court’s certiorari jurisdiction.’ ” As such, appellate courts should analyze irreparable harm first to determine if jurisdiction exists before deciding whether the trial court’s order departed from the essential requirements of law.

CPPB, supra (internal citations omitted).

Here, the Sixth District declined to adopt a rule that a petition for certiorari relief was always available when a trial court declined to dissolve a lis pendens.  Instead, the Sixth District held:

[W]e find that irreparable harm is not presumed in cases involving orders denying motions to dissolve lis pendens because this would create a new category of non-final orders reviewable on interlocutory appeal, which the Florida Supreme Court has expressly declined to do.  Accordingly, it was incumbent upon [the seller] to explain how it would suffer irreparable harm absent immediate review of the order denying its motion to dissolve the lis pendens. Having failed to do so, we dismiss its petition.

CPPB, supra (internal citations omitted).

This ruling is clearly not what a party dealing with the denial of a lis pendens want to hear. Or deal with. However, the takeaway here is that if moving to dissolve a lis pendens, make sure to establish irreparable harm to support the certiorari relief.

Please contact David Adelstein at dadelstein@gmail.com or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.

The post DENIAL OF MOTION TO DISSOLVE LIS PENDENS DOES NOT AUTOMATICALLY CREATE BASIS FOR CERTIORARI RELIEF appeared first on Florida Construction Legal Updates.