An unjust loss for property rights in Florida's Fifth DCA

June 16, 2017 | By MARK MILLER

Earlier today, we learned that Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeal reversed a jury award for millions of dollars to a family that had its property rights basically ignored by a small town on Florida’s east coast. The family relied upon the town council of Ponce Inlet’s invitation to develop several pieces of property at great price, only to have that same town council turn against them and refuse to allow the development after the family made its investments. The jury saw this unfairness for what it was and did justice; but the appeals court saw it differently. That the family lost the ability to use their land after the Town pulled the rug out from under them did not seem to matter to the court, or at least the opinion is virtually devoid of any reference to the unfairness involved.

The fat lady has not yet sung in this case, known as Town of Ponce Inlet v. Pacetta, and we will continue to support the family as long as the case goes on. The appellate court recognized the family had a valid takings claim and remanded the case for a new trial; in light of the equities of the case, we expect the plaintiff to win again.