Villas of Lake Jackson, Ltd. v. Leon County, No. 89-40247-WCS.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Florida
Citation884 F. Supp. 1544
Decision Date10 February 1995
PartiesVILLAS OF LAKE JACKSON, LTD., et al., Plaintiffs, v. LEON COUNTY, et al., Defendants.
Docket NumberNo. 89-40247-WCS.

884 F. Supp. 1544

VILLAS OF LAKE JACKSON, LTD., et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
LEON COUNTY, et al., Defendants.

No. 89-40247-WCS.

United States District Court, N.D. Florida, Tallahassee Division.

February 10, 1995.


884 F. Supp. 1545
COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED
884 F. Supp. 1546
COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED
884 F. Supp. 1547
E.C. Deeno Kitchen, Esq., Kitchen, Judkins, Simpson & High, Tallahassee, FL, for plaintiffs

Gregory T. Stewart, Esq., Gregory T. Stewart, P.A., John C. Cooper, Esq., Cooper, Coppins & Monroe, Tallahassee, FL, for defendants.

ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

SHERRILL, United States Magistrate Judge.

This case is before me for all further proceedings upon consent of the parties. Defendant, Leon County, moves for summary judgment for lack of standing accompanied by a memorandum. Docs. 308 and 309. Defendant also seeks summary judgment on the merits. Docs. 310 and 311.

Plaintiffs' responses are docs. 329 and 330, and doc. 338 is Defendant's reply. Defendant's depositions and affidavits are filed as doc. 313, County Commission meetings transcripts are filed as doc. 314, and corporate documents are filed as doc. 337. Plaintiff's affidavits in opposition are filed as doc. 331, and depositions and responses to interrogatories are filed as doc. 350. Numerous supplements have been filed. Docs. 318, 342, 345, 346, 385, and 386.

Summary judgment is governed by Celotex Corporation v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986):

In our view, the plain language of Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. In such a situation, there can be no `genuine issue as to any material fact,' since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.

477 U.S. at 322-23, 106 S.Ct. at 2552-53. As explained in Celotex, where the nonmoving party has the burden of proof on a dispositive issue, the moving party need not negate the claim. Rather, the burden on the moving party is to demonstrate an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case. 477 U.S. at 325, 106 S.Ct. at 2554. If this occurs, the party upon whom the burden of

884 F. Supp. 1548
proof is imposed then must come forward with evidentiary material demonstrating a genuine issue of fact for trial. Reliance on the pleadings is inadequate.1 477 U.S. at 324, 106 S.Ct. at 2553

The substantive law which underlies Plaintiffs' claims identifies which facts are "material." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). In the case at bar, the remaining federal claims are Count II, the arbitrary and capricious substantive due process claim, Count III, the claim of taking without just compensation substantive due process, and Count IV, the equal protection claim. Count V, a pendent state claim for inverse condemnation, also remains unresolved.

A "genuine issue" of material fact requires that there be such evidence that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the party bearing the burden of proof. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. at 248, 106 S.Ct. at 2510. In answering the question whether a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the party bearing the burden of proof, the court must apply the burden of proof imposed by law as to each issue. Id., 477 U.S. at 252-255, 106 S.Ct. at 2512-13.

Finally, the nonmoving party must show more than the existence of a "metaphysical doubt" regarding the material facts to show that a reasonable jury could rule in his favor. Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corporation, 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 1356, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). A scintilla of evidence is insufficient. There must be such evidence presented by Plaintiffs that a jury could reasonably return a verdict for the party bearing the burden of proof. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 251, 106 S.Ct. at 2512.2 "The evidence and inferences drawn from the evidence are viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, and all reasonable doubts are resolved in his favor." WSB-TV v. Lee, 842 F.2d 1266, 1270 (11th Cir.1988). Implausible doubts are not resolved in favor of the non-moving party. Earley v. Champion International Corp., 907 F.2d 1077, 1080 (11th Cir.1990); Matsushita. "If the evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 249-50, 106 S.Ct. at 2511.

I. Collateral estoppel: Pelham v. County of Leon, 643 So.2d 1112 (Fla. 1st DCA 1994)

A. Plaintiffs' claim of a due process property right created by state law equitable estoppel and Defendant's motion for summary judgment on the merits, doc. 310

Leon County initially contended that Plaintiffs were collaterally estopped by a judgment in state litigation as to whether the County is equitably estopped under state law from enforcing the changed Estate Zoning (single family) enacted in 1989. Doc. 311, p. 75. Plaintiffs responded that collateral estoppel does not apply because the issue in the state litigation was different (vesting against the Comprehensive Plan compared to the issue here, vesting under the prior RM-3 (multi-family) zoning). Plaintiffs also argued

884 F. Supp. 1549
that collateral estoppel should not apply because principles of public policy dictate that the constitutional issues, which could not have been resolved in the administrative proceeding, should be decided in this federal suit. Doc. 330, pp. 42-46. Thus, the parties briefed the issue of defensive use of collateral estoppel

After these memoranda of law were filed, the circuit court decision upon which Leon County had premised its collateral estoppel defense was reversed by the First District Court of Appeal. Pelham v. County of Leon, 643 So.2d 1112 (Fla. 1st DCA 1994).3 At oral argument, the parties reversed their respective positions on this question.

The order on the motion to dismiss discussed at length the relevance of the state law question of equitable estoppel. The threshold issue with respect to the substantive due process claims of Counts II and III is whether Plaintiffs had a property interest recognized by state law in either completing their multi-family development as intended in 1972 or as proposed and conditionally permitted in 1989. State law principles of equitable estoppel must be consulted to determine the existence of a state created property interest.

1. Legal principles governing collateral estoppel

A federal court must accord the same preclusive effect to a state court judgement as would the courts of that state. 28 U.S.C. § 1738; Allen v. McCurry, 449 U.S. 90, 101 S.Ct. 411, 415-416, 66 L.Ed.2d 308 (1980); Migra v. Warren City School District, 465 U.S. 75, 81, 104 S.Ct. 892, 896, 79 L.Ed.2d 56 (1984). Accordingly, state law collateral estoppel principles must be examined to determine whether the judgment in the state case collaterally estops the Defendant in this case as to issues decided in that litigation. Webb v. Ethridge, 849 F.2d 546, 549 (11th Cir.1988).

In Florida, "collateral estoppel requires `that the issue in the second action that is sought to be estopped from relitigation be identical to necessary and material issues resolved in the first suit.'" Florida Department of Transportation v. Gary, 513 So.2d 1338, 1340 (Fla. 1st DCA 1987), quoting Seaboard Coast Line Railroad Company v. Cox, 338 So.2d 190 (Fla.1976) (emphasis by the court). Stated another way, "it is essential to the application of collateral estoppel that the question common to both causes of action be actually adjudicated in the prior litigation." Smith v. Perry, 635 So.2d 1019, 1021 (Fla. 1st DCA 1994). As noted in United Services Automobile Association v. Selz, 637 So.2d 320 (4th DCA 1993), "it is a violation of due process to collaterally estop a party who has never had an opportunity to present evidence and arguments on his claim or her claim." 637 So.2d at 322. Thus, the court held that "any doubt as to whether a particular issue was actually litigated in the previous action or whether appellant has had its day in court must be resolved in favor of appellant...." 637 So.2d at 324.4

Carson v. Gibson, 638 So.2d 79 (Fla. 2d DCA), rev. denied, 645 So.2d 451 (1994) is one example of how Florida courts apply the "identity of issue" principle of collateral estoppel. In prior litigation, Gibson had sued Carson to enforce a charging lien upon a settlement of a lawsuit in which Gibson had represented Carson. In defense, Carson claimed that Gibson had provided inadequate representation. The trial court rejected that defense, finding no malpractice or unethical behavior. Carson then attempted to sue Gibson for malpractice. The second court found Carson to be collaterally estopped. The court found that the same issue, claimed inadequate representation, was necessary and material to both cases. 638 So.2d at 81. It held that collateral estoppel applied defensively to Carson's malpractice claim even though "Carson has lost his right to a jury

884 F. Supp. 1550
trial by litigating these issues in an earlier equitable proceeding." Id.

Another example is Bergman v. Serns, 560 So.2d 1201 (Fla. 3d DCA), rev. denied, 574 So.2d 143 (1990). In prior litigation, a court had held that Serns, son of the deceased, had exerted undue influence upon the deceased to obtain an inter vivos gift. The court had also found that the deceased had always intended to leave nothing to Serns by will. In the second suit, Bergman, daughter of the deceased, sought revocation of probate of a will executed by the deceased at the time of the inter vivos gift. The court in the second suit found in effect that the...

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7 practice notes
  • Baggs v. City of South Pasadena, No. 94-492-CIV-T-17-C.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
    • November 25, 1996
    ...Plaintiffs are alleging the ordinance "as applied" violated their equal protection rights. Villas of Lake Jackson, Ltd. v. Leon County, 884 F.Supp. 1544 (N.D.Fla.1995). If dissimilarly situated people are treated differently, there is no equal protection violation. E & T Realty v. Stricklan......
  • Banks v. McIntosh Cnty., CIVIL ACTION NO.: 2:16-cv-53
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Georgia
    • March 30, 2021
    ...all, there is no genuine dispute of fact concerning their lack of land ownership. See, e.g., Villas of Lake Jackson, Ltd. v. Leon Cty., 884 F. Supp. 1544, 1556 (N.D. Fla. 1995) (no genuine dispute of material fact where one defendant provided evidence that plaintiff was "not in the chain of......
  • White v. School Bd. of Hillsborough County, No. 8:06-CV-1626-T-27MAP.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
    • July 11, 2007
    ...the same conclusion that Plaintiff lacks standing under issue preclusion principles. Villas of Lake Jackson, Ltd. v. Leon Co., 884 F.Supp. 1544, 1556 (N.D.Fla.1995) (applying collateral estoppel to standing issue); Brereton v. Bountiful City Corp., 434 F.3d 1213, 1219 (10th Cir.2006); see a......
  • Wright v. GreenSky, Inc., Case No. 20-cv-62441-BLOOM/Valle
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Southern District of Florida
    • June 14, 2021
    ...even when under oath, are not sufficient to oppose a motion for summary judgment[.]" Villas of Lake Jackson, Ltd. v. Leon Cnty., 884 F. Supp. 1544, 1548 n.2 (N.D. Fla. 1995). Indeed, "[s]uch unsubstantiated, conclusory allegations are insufficient to survive summary judgment" when contradic......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
7 cases
  • Baggs v. City of South Pasadena, No. 94-492-CIV-T-17-C.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
    • November 25, 1996
    ...Plaintiffs are alleging the ordinance "as applied" violated their equal protection rights. Villas of Lake Jackson, Ltd. v. Leon County, 884 F.Supp. 1544 (N.D.Fla.1995). If dissimilarly situated people are treated differently, there is no equal protection violation. E & T Realty v. Stricklan......
  • Banks v. McIntosh Cnty., CIVIL ACTION NO.: 2:16-cv-53
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Georgia
    • March 30, 2021
    ...all, there is no genuine dispute of fact concerning their lack of land ownership. See, e.g., Villas of Lake Jackson, Ltd. v. Leon Cty., 884 F. Supp. 1544, 1556 (N.D. Fla. 1995) (no genuine dispute of material fact where one defendant provided evidence that plaintiff was "not in the chain of......
  • White v. School Bd. of Hillsborough County, No. 8:06-CV-1626-T-27MAP.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
    • July 11, 2007
    ...the same conclusion that Plaintiff lacks standing under issue preclusion principles. Villas of Lake Jackson, Ltd. v. Leon Co., 884 F.Supp. 1544, 1556 (N.D.Fla.1995) (applying collateral estoppel to standing issue); Brereton v. Bountiful City Corp., 434 F.3d 1213, 1219 (10th Cir.2006); see a......
  • Wright v. GreenSky, Inc., Case No. 20-cv-62441-BLOOM/Valle
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Southern District of Florida
    • June 14, 2021
    ...even when under oath, are not sufficient to oppose a motion for summary judgment[.]" Villas of Lake Jackson, Ltd. v. Leon Cnty., 884 F. Supp. 1544, 1548 n.2 (N.D. Fla. 1995). Indeed, "[s]uch unsubstantiated, conclusory allegations are insufficient to survive summary judgment" when contradic......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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