WSH Obtains Appellate Victory For Town of Manalapan

On November 14, the Fourth District Court of Appeal issued a per curiam affirmance of the trial victory obtained by WSH Partner Daniel L. Abbott in a long-lasting battle between a wealthy homeowner and the Town of Manalapan over a zoning issue.

Louis and Wendy Navellier own an ocean-front home in Manalapan, Florida. In 2005, they had constructed a pool cabana on their property. The cabana was constructed without required Town approvals (such as building permits). In addition, the cabana was constructed within the side-yard setback area.

The Navelliers applied for a side yard setback variance, which the Town denied. After the appeals to the denial to the variance were concluded in the Town’s favor, the Town issued the Navelliers a notice of violation.

The Navelliers filed a multi-count complaint against the Town and 6 of its then Town Commissioners, generally alleging: (1) the setback ordinance is an unconstitutional infringement upon property rights; (2) the criteria for granting variances in the Town’s Code are unconstitutionally vague; and (3) both the denial of the requested variance and the issuance of the notice of violation violated the Navelliers equal protection rights. The Navelliers contended that other, similarly situated homeowners were in violation of the setback ordinance, but were not issued citations, and other, similarly situated property owners were granted variances from the setback requirements, but the Navelliers were not. The Navelliers contended that the reason for this disparate treatment was long-standing animosity between the Navelliers and Town officials.

Circuit Court Judge Glen Kelly granted Defendants’ motion for summary judgment on issues (1) and (2), above. The equal protection case was tried before a jury for 9 days. They returned a defense verdict.

The Navelliers’ appealed, and the fourth DCA affirmed the judgment for the defendants, per curium.

Chaired by Matthew H. Mandel, WSH's Litigation Division routinely represents private businesses, individuals and municipalities at every level of the justice system.  We have extensive experience defending municipalities and governmental agencies in all areas of liability, and specialize in cases involving negligence, tort liability, complex constitutional law issues, sovereign immunity, qualified immunity, civil rights, torts and common law claims.  Our Appellate Practice Group, led by Edward G. Guedes, handles dozens of appeals generated by our trial practice. 

Categories: Land Use & Zoning (Public)LitigationLocal Government
Tags: Governmental LitigationMunicipal GovernmentSpecial Counsel to Local GovernmentRule EnforcementDaniel L. AbbottMitchell A. BiermanJamie A. ColeChad S. FriedmanEdward G. GuedesMichael S. PopokJoseph H. SerotaSusan L. TrevarthenRichard Jay WeissDavid M. WolpinFort Lauderdale Local Government LawMiami Local Government LawSouth Florida Local Government LawMatthew H. MandelFort Lauderdale LitigatorsMiami LitigatorsSouth Florida LitigatorsFort Lauderdale Civil Litigation Attorneys
Author(s): Daniel L. Abbott