Town of Manalapan v. Rechler

Decision Date01 May 1996
Docket NumberNo. 95-0503,95-0503
Parties21 Fla. L. Weekly D1046 The TOWN OF MANALAPAN Appellant, v. Morton RECHLER and Beverly Rechler, his wife, Appellees.
CourtFlorida District Court of Appeals

Appeal from the Circuit Court for the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit; Moses Baker, Judge.

John Beranek of Macfarlane Ausley Ferguson & McMullen, Tallahassee, James McCartney Wearn of James McCartney

Wearn, P.A., West Palm Beach, and Michael R. Piper, for Appellant.

Daniel S. Rosenbaum and Karen E. Roselli of Becker & Poliakoff, P.A., West Palm Beach, for Appellees.

POLEN, Judge.

The Town of Manalapan (Town) appeals a Writ of Mandamus ordering Town to process all public records requests submitted by appellees Morton & Beverly Rechler (Rechlers) in strict accordance with the requirements of section 119.07, Florida Statutes (1993), the Florida Public Records Act. We affirm the trial court's order granting the Writ of Mandamus, but sua sponte strike that portion of the last sentence of the writ in which the trial court retains jurisdiction to oversee the continued enforcement of the writ.

Prior to the commencement of the present suit, the Rechlers were involved in litigation with a third party. As part of that suit, the Rechlers made several requests for public information from Town under Chapter 119.07(1). Allegedly, the Town unreasonably delayed the production of these documents, which gave rise to this request for mandamus.

A two day, non-jury trial was held on the Rechlers' petition for mandamus. The trial court found the Town had engaged in a pattern of delay when providing the requested material. Additionally, the court found the delays excessive and unreasonable and ordered Town to process all public records requests in strict accordance with Chapter 119.

The last sentence of the trial court's order states:

ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the Court retains jurisdiction of this case to enforce this Writ of Mandamus, and to determine all issues relative to attorneys' fees and costs.

While mandamus is an appropriate remedy to compel the performance of ministerial duties devolved by law on public officers, it will not lie where continued judicial supervision is required. Mandamus is defined as a remedy to command performance of a ministerial act that the person deprived has a right to demand, or a remedy where public officials or agencies may be coerced to perform ministerial duties that they have a clear legal duty to perform. Miami v. State, 164 So.2d 26 (Fla. 3d DCA 1964); City of Coral Gables v. State ex rel. Worley, 44 So.2d 298 (Fla.1950). A duty or act is defined as ministerial when there is no room for the exercise of discretion, and the performance being required is directed by law. Solomon v. Sanitarians' Registration Bd., 155 So.2d 353 (Fla.1963).

Mandamus, however, will not lie to prevent a future harm. Daniels v. Bryson, 548 So.2d 679 (Fla. 3d DCA 1989). In Daniels the court held:

Injunctive relief would be appropriate, we believe, where there is a demonstrated pattern of noncompliance with the Public Records Law, together with a showing of likelihood of future violations. Mandamus would not be an adequate remedy,...

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30 cases
  • Callejas v. City of Miami Beach
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Florida
    • February 10, 2022
    ... ... requests is ministerial[.]” Town of Manalapan v ... Rechler, 674 So.2d 789, 790 (Fla. 4th DCA 1996); ... Potts v ... ...
  • Disser v. City of Tampa
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Middle District of Florida
    • July 31, 2013
    ...have a ministerial duty under the Code to issue the permit; this matter is properly considered on mandamus. Town of Manalapan v. Rechler, 674 So. 2d 789, 790 (Fla. 4th DCA 1996) (mandamus is used to compel performance of ministerial duties, meaning "there is no room for the exercise of disc......
  • Rhea v. Dist. Bd. of Trs. of Santa Fe Coll.
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • March 13, 2013
    ...or agencies may be coerced to perform ministerial duties that they have a clear legal duty to perform.” Town of Manalapan v. Rechler, 674 So.2d 789, 790 (Fla. 4th DCA 1996). For purposes of mandamus relief, a duty or act is ministerial when no room exists for the exercise of discretion and ......
  • Cole v. State, 98-01718
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • June 1, 1998
    ...proceedings in his own Marchman Act case, it is more properly treated as a petition for writ of prohibition. See Town of Manalapan v. Rechler, 674 So.2d 789 (Fla. 4th DCA) (mandamus not for use to prevent threat of future harm), review denied, 684 So.2d 1353 (Fla.1996); Dix v. Richardson, 4......
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