Palm Beach Estates v. Croker

CourtFlorida Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtDAVIS, J.
Citation106 Fla. 617,143 So. 792
PartiesPALM BEACH ESTATES et al. v. CROKER.
Decision Date31 August 1932

143 So. 792

106 Fla. 617

PALM BEACH ESTATES et al.
v.
CROKER.

Florida Supreme Court, Division B.

August 31, 1932


Rehearing Denied Oct. 25, 1932.

Suit by Bula E. Croker against the Palm Beach Estates and another. From the final decree, defendants appeal, and complainant cross-appeals.

Affirmed in part and reversed in part, and cause remanded, with directions. [143 So. 793] [106 Fla. 619] Appeal from Circuit Court, Palm Beach County; C. E. Chillingworth, judge.

COUNSEL

Fleming, Hamilton, Diver & Lichliter, of Jacksonville, Blackwell, Donnell & Moore, of West Palm Beach, and Loftin, Stokes & Calkins, of Miami, for appellants.

Fancher, Paty & Warwick, and R. E. Robinson, all of West Palm Beach, and George M. Powell, of Jacksonville, for appellee.

OPINION

DAVIS, J.

This case is for the second time before this court on an appeal and a cross-appeal from a final decree of the circuit court of Palm Beach county rendered as to issues heretofore considered by this court in passing upon the pleadings.

After the previous opinion and decision were handed down by us in this suit (Croker v. Palm Beach Estates, 94 Fla. 171, 114 So. 225), the case was remanded to the court below where further proceedings were had pursuant to the mandate. Voluminous testimony was taken, [1] and a final decree rendered in favor of the cross-complainant in the court below. Both parties are dissatisfied with that decree, and both have appealed from it, and assigned error with regard to it.

The questions arising now are largely of facts which are complex, of the legal effect and weight of evidence about which there is a dispute, and concerning conclusions of the chancellor arrived at by him in deciding several sharp [106 Fla. 620] conflicts in the evidence which largely influenced, if they did not control, the ultimate decision of the whole controversy.

The law of the case as made by the pleadings was settled by this court when it was here before. See J. W. McWilliams Co. v. Fort Myers Development Corp., 140 So. 902, opinion filed April 16, 1932, decided here at the last term. For a proper disposition of the present appeal, the issues as presented by such pleadings are sufficiently stated in the opinion heretofore filed in this case on the former appeal. It is therefore unnecessary for us to repeat them now. For the previous opinion (per Ellis, C.J.), see Croker v. Palm Beach Estates, 94 Fla. 171, 114 So. 225.

The questions of law heretofore considered and decided by this court on the first appeal herein being no longer open for discussion or consideration, all assignments of error on this appeal advanced by either of the parties in an effort to reopen the propositions of law heretofore adjudicated must be eliminated from reconsideration in this opinion. See Commercial Bank v. First Natl. Bank, 80 Fla. 685, 87 So. 315; First Natl. Bank of St. Petersburg v. Ulmer, 66 Fla. 68, 63 So. 145; Peacock v. Our Home Life Ins. Co., 73 Fla. 1027, 75 So. 799; Tampa Water Works Co. v. Wood (Fla.) 139 So. 800, decided at the last term.

The original bill of complaint was filed by Bula E. Croker against J. B. McDonald and Palm Beach Estates seeking to cancel a land contract. The contract sought to be canceled is fully described in the previous opinion [143 So. 794] of the court hereinabove referred to. The defendants in that suit resisted the cancellation asked for, and filed a counterclaim seeking specific performance of the contract thus sought to be canceled. The decision of the present appeal now largely turns upon the chancellor's findings [106 Fla. 621] on the issues presented by the counterclaim, because the chancellor found the equities against the original complainant and in favor of the counter claimant, and entered his final decree according to that finding.

Before the taking of testimony began, complainant in the court below, Mrs. Bula Croker, sought leave of the court to file a fifth amended bill of complaint. At that time the theory of complainant's case, as presented by her pending pleadings, had been under review of, and decided by, this court on the previous appeal. The object of the proposed fifth amended bill of complaint was to present by way of another amended bill in equity a new and different equitable basis for relief, materially and distinctly different from that previously asserted by Mrs. Croker.

The chancellor denied the motion to file the fifth amended bill, stating in his order: 'In view of the decision of the Supreme Court in this case, and upon authority of Guggenheimer & Co. v. Davidson, 62 Fla. 490, 56 So. 801, I am of the opinion that the proposed amended bill is neither timely nor proper at this state of the case, and that it would not be within my judicial discretion to permit it to be filed.'

Our view is that no reversible error was committed by the chancellor in so ruling.

The first bill of complaint had been filed December 8, 1923. The fourth amended bill had been filed January 28, 1925. Thereafter the last-amended bill had been answered and a counterclaim interposed to it. The counterclaim was attacked by exceptions. To an order overruling such exceptions the previous appeal had been taken by complainant, who felt aggrieved at that ruling. Before taking an appeal, complainant was in duty bound to perfect her own pleadings before appealing from the order on her own exceptions to an answer and counterclaim filed in response to her last-amended bill. This is [106 Fla. 622] so because the purpose of the interlocutory appeal taken was to fix the law of the case in relation to the fourth amended bill, and the answer and counterclaim filed thereto.

Having been brought into the appellate court as an appellee, defendant interposing the answer and counterclaim was entitled to the benefit of the Supreme Court's holding that the answer and counterclaim were sufficient in law in the particulars argued and considered by the appellate court. It was therefore beyond the province of the chancellor to permit appellee to be deprived of such benefit through the filing of an amended bill which was designed to reopen and reargue the whole controversy, and which would have laid the basis for another appeal concerning in part, at least, the same matters which this court had already decided.

When a party appeals from an order of the circuit court in a chancery cause, and such order on appeal is affirmed by the appellate court, and the cause remanded for further proceedings consistent with the appellate court's opinion, the lower court has no authority to reopen the case, or to permit amendments to be made inconsistent with the state of the record upon which the appeal was decided, unless authority to do so be expressly or impliedly given by the appellate court. Bloxham v. F. C. & P. R. R. Co., 39 Fla. 243, 22 So. 697.

Even in cases in which no appeal at all has been taken, an amended bill of complaint which is in effect the institution of a new and materially different suit alleging a different cause of action, which is wholly inconsistent with, and repugnant to, the allegations of the original bill and attempts to assert an entirely different and inconsistent right in the complainant has been held by this court to be improper and subject to a motion to strike. See Guggenheimer & Co. v. Davidson, 62 Fla. 490, 56 So. 801.

[106 Fla. 623] The object of our statute in permitting interlocutory appeals in chancery cases is to expedite the administration of justice by providing a means by which propositions of law involved in the procedural steps of an equity suit may be finally and authoritatively settled by an appellate court, and become the law of the case with reference to subsequent proceedings. The statute permits but does not require the taking of an interlocutory appeal. Section 4961, C. G. L., section 3169, R. G. S. But when such an appeal has been taken, appellant, who has elected to pursue it, is bound not only as to the law points decided, but by the state of the record upon which he has assumed to seek appellate review. This is certainly true with respect to his own pleadings when he has had full opportunity to amend and perfect them before appealing from an interlocutory order made with reference thereto.

An interlocutory appeal in equity in this state is but a step in the cause.[2] Rabinowitz v. Houk, 100 Fla. 44, 129 So. 501; section 4635, C. G. L., chapter 11890, Acts of 1927. And upon any appeal, whether interlocutory or final, this court has authority to enter its own decree here disposing of the matter brought before it for review. McLin v. Florida Automobile Owners' Assoc. (Fla.) 141 So. 147; Anderson v. Board of Public Instruction (Fla.) 136 So. 334. [143 So. 795]

The effect therefore of a decree of this court simply affirming an interlocutory order of the circuit court in a chancery cause, is to approve that order in the form in which it was entered in the court below, and thereby to conclusively fix the status of that order as a final adjudication of those propositions of law embraced in or comprehended by it so far as such propositions of law have been discussed and decided on the appeal. Such an adjudication [106 Fla. 624] necessarily precludes a change or amendment of the record in the lower court which would defeat in whole or in part the effect of the appellate court's decision after the mandate of this court is sent down. [3]

The same principle which forbids the circuit court from defeating our appellate jurisdiction, by permitting a dismissal of a bill of complaint while an appeal predicated on its alleged insufficiency is pending undisposed of (Willey v. Hoggson, 89 Fla. 446, 105 So. 126), precludes the defeat, indirectly, or what has already been decided by an actual decision of this court. Such circumvention cannot be accomplished after remand of the cause by permitting an amendment of the record indirectly having the effect of...

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59 practice notes
  • Stanley v. Powers
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • March 30, 1936
    ...Moore Lumber Co. v. Legato, 100 Fla. 1451, 131 So. 381; Menendez v. Rodriguez, 106 Fla. 214, 143 So. 223; Palm Beach Estates v. Croker, 106 Fla. 617, 143 So. 792; Lindsley v. Phare, 115 Fla. 454, 155 So. 812; Whetstone v. Coslick, 117 Fla. 203, 157 So. 666, 95 A.L.R. 455; Newman v. Equitabl......
  • Homewood Dairy Products Co. v. Robinson, 3 Div. 575
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • October 12, 1950
    ...525; Fulkerson v. Thornton, 68 Mo. 468; Peacock v. Stott, 90 N.C. 518; Kale v. Elliott, 18 Hun., N.Y. 198; Palm Beach Estates v. Croker, 106 Fla. 617, 143 So. 792; McConnon & Co. v. Kuhlmann, 220 Mo.App. 821, 278 S.W. 822; Paddock v. Potter, 67 Vt. 360, 31 A. While this Court does not seem ......
  • U.S. Gypsum Co. v. Columbia Cas. Co.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • June 10, 1936
    ...preclude material changes in the judicial hypothesis upon which the appellate decision was rendered. Palm Beach Estates v. Croker, 106 Fla. 617, 143 So. 792 (first two headnotes). So, reduced to its ultimate analysis, the case now before this court presents a case of conflicting judicial es......
  • Federal Land Bank of Columbia v. Brooks
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • July 27, 1939
    ...court as applied to the state of the record upon which an interlocutory appeal has been taken and decided. Palm Beach Estates v. Croker, 106 Fla. 617, 143 So. 792. Nor may an amended bill state a new and different cause of action. Palm Beach Estates v. Croker, supra; Guggenheimer & Co. v. D......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
59 cases
  • Stanley v. Powers
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • March 30, 1936
    ...Moore Lumber Co. v. Legato, 100 Fla. 1451, 131 So. 381; Menendez v. Rodriguez, 106 Fla. 214, 143 So. 223; Palm Beach Estates v. Croker, 106 Fla. 617, 143 So. 792; Lindsley v. Phare, 115 Fla. 454, 155 So. 812; Whetstone v. Coslick, 117 Fla. 203, 157 So. 666, 95 A.L.R. 455; Newman v. Equitabl......
  • Homewood Dairy Products Co. v. Robinson, 3 Div. 575
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • October 12, 1950
    ...525; Fulkerson v. Thornton, 68 Mo. 468; Peacock v. Stott, 90 N.C. 518; Kale v. Elliott, 18 Hun., N.Y. 198; Palm Beach Estates v. Croker, 106 Fla. 617, 143 So. 792; McConnon & Co. v. Kuhlmann, 220 Mo.App. 821, 278 S.W. 822; Paddock v. Potter, 67 Vt. 360, 31 A. While this Court does not seem ......
  • U.S. Gypsum Co. v. Columbia Cas. Co.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • June 10, 1936
    ...preclude material changes in the judicial hypothesis upon which the appellate decision was rendered. Palm Beach Estates v. Croker, 106 Fla. 617, 143 So. 792 (first two headnotes). So, reduced to its ultimate analysis, the case now before this court presents a case of conflicting judicial es......
  • Federal Land Bank of Columbia v. Brooks
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • July 27, 1939
    ...court as applied to the state of the record upon which an interlocutory appeal has been taken and decided. Palm Beach Estates v. Croker, 106 Fla. 617, 143 So. 792. Nor may an amended bill state a new and different cause of action. Palm Beach Estates v. Croker, supra; Guggenheimer & Co. v. D......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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