Levine v. Levine, No. 98-02296.

CourtFlorida District Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtNORTHCUTT.
Citation734 So.2d 1191
Docket NumberNo. 98-02296.
Decision Date02 July 1999
PartiesPaul R. LEVINE, M.D., Stephen M. Zweibach, M.D., Mark R. Davis, M.D., P.A., a dissolved Florida professional association, Appellant, v. Paul R. LEVINE, M.D.; Susan W. Levine; Tampa Obstetrics, P.A., a Florida Professional Association; Richard Gordimer, C.P.A.; and Rivero, Gordimer & Company, P.A., Appellees.

734 So.2d 1191

Paul R. LEVINE, M.D., Stephen M. Zweibach, M.D., Mark R. Davis, M.D., P.A., a dissolved Florida professional association, Appellant,
v.
Paul R. LEVINE, M.D.; Susan W. Levine; Tampa Obstetrics, P.A., a Florida Professional Association; Richard Gordimer, C.P.A.; and Rivero, Gordimer & Company, P.A., Appellees

No. 98-02296.

District Court of Appeal of Florida, Second District.

July 2, 1999.


734 So.2d 1192
N. Burton Williams, Valrico, for Appellant

Thomas D. Shults of Hogreve & Shults, Sarasota, for Appellees Paul R. Levine, M.D., Susan W. Levine, and Tampa Obstetrics, P.A.

Stanford R. Solomon and Heather A. Pigman of Solomon & Benedict, P.A., Tampa, for Appellees Richard Gordimer, C.P.A., and Rivero, Gordimer & Company, P.A.

NORTHCUTT, Judge.

This appeal arises from a dispute among the three shareholders in the appellant corporation, a dissolved professional association of physicians. The order under review dismissed with prejudice the corporation's action against one of the shareholders and others. The circuit court held that the other two shareholders had caused the corporation to file the suit after they improperly removed the defendant shareholder from the corporation's board of directors. We conclude that the pleadings and exhibits before us reflect no impropriety in the defendant shareholder's expulsion from the board. Accordingly, we reverse with directions to reinstate the action.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are alleged in the corporation's first amended complaint or reflected in its exhibits. For purposes of the defendants' motions to dismiss and this appeal, they are taken as true.

The corporation, which we refer to as "LZD," ceased to do business in December 1990, and it was administratively dissolved by the Florida Department of State in August 1995. LZD's outstanding shares of common voting stock were owned in equal number by Drs. Paul Levine, Stephen Zweibach, and Mark Davis. Drs. Levine and Zweibach were the corporation's only directors, and Dr. Levine was its president. Dr. Levine's wife, Susan Levine, served as LZD's executive director. Dr. Levine was also the managing shareholder and president of another professional association, Tampa Obstetrics, P.A., and Mrs. Levine also functioned as that corporation's executive director.1

734 So.2d 1193
In 1996, the grantors of a note and mortgage given to LZD in 1988 sued for cancellation of the note and mortgage. At the June 1997 final hearing in that action, Dr. and Mrs. Levine testified that in December 1990 Dr. Levine, as president of LZD, had transferred all of LZD's furniture, fixtures, equipment and loans receivable to Tampa Obstetrics. Thereafter, the court hearing that matter rendered judgment declaring, among other things, that the transfer to Tampa Obstetrics was improper.2

In November 1997, Drs. Zweibach and Davis, holders of two-thirds of LZD's stock, voted to remove Dr. Levine from the corporation's board of directors and to replace him with Dr. Davis. This newly constituted board of directors then terminated Dr. Levine as LZD's president and caused the corporation to file the lawsuit giving rise to this appeal. These shareholder and director actions were accomplished by Dr. Zweibach's and Dr. Davis's written consent, without formal meetings and without prior notice.

PROCEEDINGS BELOW

LZD filed suit against the Levines and Tampa Obstetrics in January 1998, and shortly thereafter obtained an ex parte temporary injunction directing them to turn over LZD's corporate books and to maintain the assets alleged to have been improperly transferred to Tampa Obstetrics. As a condition to issuance of the injunction, LZD posted a $1,000 cash bond with the clerk of circuit court. On the defendants' motion, the court later ordered the injunction dissolved, at which time it directed the clerk to retain LZD's bond pending the court's determination whether the defendants were entitled to recover attorney's fees, costs or damages as a result of the injunction.

In due course, LZD filed an amended complaint that alleged six counts against five defendants. Count one was a replevin action against Tampa Obstetrics, seeking return of the assets transferred to it by Dr. Levine in December 1990. Count two charged Tampa Obstetrics with conversion of the same assets.

In count three, LZD alleged that between December 1990 and January 1998 Dr. and Mrs. Levine breached their fiduciary duties to the corporation by, among other things, transferring assets to Tampa Obstetrics and allowing that corporation to collect mortgage payments belonging to LZD, failing to properly conduct LZD's financial affairs, and failing to disclose the corporation's true financial condition to its directors and shareholders. Count four was an action against the Levines and Tampa Obstetrics for treble damages pursuant to chapter 772, Florida Statutes (1997).

Count five charged Dr. and Mrs. Levine, along with LZD's certified public accountant, Richard Gordimer, and his firm, Rivero, Gordimer & Company, P.A., with breaching fiduciary duties to the corporation. LZD asserted that these defendants had agreed among themselves to conceal the corporation's true financial condition by preparing and filing false or misleading state and federal tax returns between December 1990 and January 1998. Finally, count six alleged that Gordimer and his firm had committed malpractice during the same period.

All defendants moved to dismiss on several grounds. The circuit court granted their motions and dismissed the action with prejudice because "the Plaintiff did not have standing and did not have the legal basis for filing this lawsuit. Plaintiff did not follow and adhere scrupulously to the statutory condition precedents for the actions taken inasmuch as proper notice was not provided to one of the directors."

734 So.2d 1194
Alternatively, the court ruled that if it was later determined that LZD did have standing to bring the action, count three was dismissed without prejudice for failure to state a cause of action, and the remaining counts were dismissed without prejudice because they were not filed within the applicable statutes of limitations

Finally, the order dismissing the action directed the clerk of circuit court to release LZD's $1,000 injunction bond to the Levines and Tampa Obstetrics.

DISCUSSION

The defendants maintain that LZD had no right to file the lawsuit because the board of directors that authorized the action was improperly constituted. They argue that Dr. Levine's dismissal as a director was ineffective because it was not done at a noticed meeting of shareholders pursuant to section 607.0808(4), Florida Statutes (1997).3 That provision of the Florida Business Corporation Act provides:

(4) A director may be removed by the shareholders at a meeting of shareholders, provided the notice of the meeting states that the purpose, or one of the purposes, of the meeting is removal of the director.

LZD contends that because Drs. Zweibach and Davis together held sufficient votes to remove a director from the board, they were authorized to act in writing and without a noticed meeting by section 607.0704, Florida Statutes (1997), which, in pertinent part, states:

(1) Unless otherwise provided in the articles of incorporation, action required or permitted by this act to be taken at an annual or special meeting of shareholders may be taken without a meeting, without prior notice, and without a vote if the action is taken by the holders of outstanding stock of each voting group entitled to vote thereon having not less than the minimum number of votes with respect to each voting group that would be necessary to authorize or take such action at a meeting at which all voting groups and shares entitled to vote thereon were present and voted.

The parties have not directed us to any decision addressing the interplay of these statutes, nor have we found one. But the defendants argue that under principles of statutory construction the general statute permitting shareholders to act by written consent must yield to the specific statutory provision for the removal of directors only at a shareholder meeting that has been noticed for that purpose.

We acknowledge that principle, but conclude that it is inapplicable here. Whenever possible, the meaning of a statute must be gleaned from its plain language. See Starr Tyme, Inc. v. Cohen, 659 So.2d 1064 (Fla.1995). Courts may resort to rules of construction to interpret statutes only if the statutes are ambiguous or in conflict. See Starr Tyme, 659 So.2d at 1067. These two...

To continue reading

Request your trial
26 practice notes
  • Knowles v. Beverly Enterprises-Florida, No. SC00-1910.
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • December 16, 2004
    ...to cause reference to the legislative history of chapter 400. See generally Capers v. State, 678 So.2d 330 (Fla.1996); Levine v. Levine, 734 So.2d 1191 (Fla. 2d DCA 1999). The majority and concurring opinions totally omit this sentence from all of the statute quotations and all analysis. Ad......
  • Damian v. Int'l Metals Trading & Invs., Ltd., Case No. 1:16–CV–20343–DMM
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Southern District of Florida
    • March 22, 2017
    ...is not immune from litigation, because, under Florida law, its "corporate existence" continues after dissolution. Levine v. Levine , 734 So.2d 1191, 1196 (Fla. 2nd DCA 1999) (citing Fla. Stat. § 607.1405(2)(e), (f) ).7 Third, district courts have found that personal jurisdiction exists over......
  • Callaway v. Hornbake, CASE NO. 2:11-CV-85-FtM-99DNF
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
    • February 1, 2012
    ...may still sue and be sued. Florida is in the majority of states that follows a forgiving approach. See Levine, et al. v. Levine, et al., 734 So.2d 1191, 1197 (Fla. 2d DCA 1999)(finding that the dismissal of dissolved corporation's lawsuit with prejudice was improper because a corporation ma......
  • In re Inc., Bankruptcy No. 01–13984–BKC–RAM.
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Eleventh Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Southern District of Florida
    • April 6, 2011
    ...(continued life of dissolved corporation for only three years in order that it might settle and close its business); Levine v. Levine, 734 So.2d 1191 (Fla. 2d DCA 1999). Nevada Revised Statutes § 78.585 also states that the rights of a corporation shall continue but only for two years after......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
25 cases
  • Knowles v. Beverly Enterprises-Florida, No. SC00-1910.
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • December 16, 2004
    ...to cause reference to the legislative history of chapter 400. See generally Capers v. State, 678 So.2d 330 (Fla.1996); Levine v. Levine, 734 So.2d 1191 (Fla. 2d DCA 1999). The majority and concurring opinions totally omit this sentence from all of the statute quotations and all analysis. Ad......
  • Damian v. Int'l Metals Trading & Invs., Ltd., Case No. 1:16–CV–20343–DMM
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Southern District of Florida
    • March 22, 2017
    ...is not immune from litigation, because, under Florida law, its "corporate existence" continues after dissolution. Levine v. Levine , 734 So.2d 1191, 1196 (Fla. 2nd DCA 1999) (citing Fla. Stat. § 607.1405(2)(e), (f) ).7 Third, district courts have found that personal jurisdiction exists over......
  • Callaway v. Hornbake, CASE NO. 2:11-CV-85-FtM-99DNF
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
    • February 1, 2012
    ...may still sue and be sued. Florida is in the majority of states that follows a forgiving approach. See Levine, et al. v. Levine, et al., 734 So.2d 1191, 1197 (Fla. 2d DCA 1999)(finding that the dismissal of dissolved corporation's lawsuit with prejudice was improper because a corporation ma......
  • In re Inc., Bankruptcy No. 01–13984–BKC–RAM.
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Eleventh Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Southern District of Florida
    • April 6, 2011
    ...(continued life of dissolved corporation for only three years in order that it might settle and close its business); Levine v. Levine, 734 So.2d 1191 (Fla. 2d DCA 1999). Nevada Revised Statutes § 78.585 also states that the rights of a corporation shall continue but only for two years after......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • No Written Shareholder Agreement? A Survey of Florida Shareholders' Statutory Rights.
    • United States
    • Florida Bar Journal Vol. 96 Nbr. 3, May 2022
    • May 1, 2022
    ...715, 720 (8th Cir. 1974). (14) FLA. STAT. [section]607.0730 (2021). (15) Id. (16) FLA. STAT. [section]607.0808 (2021); Levine v. Levine, 734 So. 2d 1191, 1194 (Fla. 2d DCA 1999); Special Situations Cayman Fund, L.P. v. Dot Com Entm't Group, Inc., 00-CV-0811E(F), 2004 WL 1083136, at *2 (W.D.......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT