Citrus Canker: Appellate Victory for Homeowners in Appeal Before Third DCA

WSH Founding Member Joseph H. Serota and Grossman Roth P.A. attorney Robert Gilbert recently obtained an appellate victory before the Third District Court of Appeal on behalf of Miami-Dade homeowners whose trees were destroyed by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Citrus Canker Eradication Program (“CCEP”). In Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services v. Lopez-Brignoni, et al., 10-2024, the Department appealed the lower court’s certification of the plaintiff class on the basis that 1) the plaintiffs did not have a private cause of action for additional compensation under Florida law, nor a claim for inverse condemnation, and 2) the trial court applied an improper measure of damages for the destroyed trees. The majority opinion rejected these arguments and affirmed the lower court’s order granting the homeowner’s motion for class certification.  Since 2000, the firm, through Managing Director Jamie A. Cole, has been co-lead counsel with Robert Gilbert in multiple lawsuits against the State to obtain full and just compensation for the hundreds of thousands of healthy citrus trees that were destroyed by the state of Florida as part of the CCEP.

In this most recent decision, the majority first repudiated the Department’s assertion that Florida Statute § 581.1845 did not provide for a private cause of action and precluded the plaintiff’s inverse condemnation claim. The majority responded that Florida Statute § 581.1845(4) expressly provides that plaintiffs may recover additional compensation under the CCEP in excess of the statutory per-tree amount. Turning to the Department’s contention that the trial court applied an improper measure of damages, the majority held that it could find no evidence that the court abused its discretion when it selected the replacement cost of the trees as the proper measure of damages. The majority noted that courts in the Second and Fourth District had applied comparable measures of damages in cases brought by homeowners for similar claims.

With more than 20 litigators and trial attorneys in the Litigation Division, WSH represents private businesses, individuals and municipalities at every level of the justice system. Our litigators routinely try cases in front of juries, judges, administrative panels, arbitrators and appellate panels. Our Appellate Practice Group has a record of success pursuing and defeating appeals of final judgments and verdicts on behalf of public and private sector clients throughout the State.

An accomplished litigator and appellate advocate, Joe has extensive experience representing private and public entities throughout South Florida in an array of matters from governmental to complex civil litigation. Joe has been recognized as a “Top Lawyer” by South Florida Legal Guide, a “SuperLawyer” by Florida SuperLawyers, and a member of Florida Trend’s “Legal Elite” (the Top 1% of Florida Laywers) each year since 2004. In 2012, Florida Trend inducted Joe into the Legal Elite Hall of Fame.  Joe was also recently recognized as a "BestLawyer" by BestLawyers, the oldest and most respected peer-review publication in the legal profession.

Jamie has extensive experience representing both private and public clients, and currently serves as special litigation counsel for numerous municipalities in Palm Beach and Broward Counties. Jamie has been recognized as a Florida "SuperLawyer" every year since 2007, and as a "Top Lawyer" each year since 2005.  A member of our Local Government Law Division, Jamie serves as the City Attorney for Miramar and Weston. 

Categories: LitigationGovernment AffairsAppellate Law & PracticeConstitutional Law
Tags: Governmental LitigationJamie A. ColeEdward G. GuedesClifford A. SchulmanJoseph H. SerotaFort Lauderdale Business Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Business Litigation LawyersMiami Commercial Litigation AttorneyMiami Commercial Litigation LawyerSouth Florida Commercial Litigation AttorneySouth Florida Commercial Litigation LawyerSouth Florida Business Dispute Litigation AttorneysSouth Florida Business Dispute Litigation LawyersFort Lauderdale LitigatorsMiami LitigatorsFort Lauderdale Constitutional Law AttorneysMiami Constitutional Law AttorneysSouth Florida Constitutional Law AttorneysFort Lauderdale Environmental Law AttorneysMiami Environmental Law AttorneysSouth Florida Environmental Law Attorneys South Florida LitigatorsFlorida Commercial Litigation LawyerFlorida Environmental LawFlorida Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Civil Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Commercial Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Commercial Litigation AttorneysMiami Commercial Litigation AttorneyMiami Litigation Attorney
Author(s): Brooke P. Dolara