Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Judgment Reversed for Failure to Join Indispensible Parties

In Stevens v. Tarpon Bay Homeowners Association, Inc. (4D08-1444), the Fourth District reversed the trial court's judgment. The dispute involved whether two homeowners had a right to space on a community dock within the homeowners association.

The two plaintiffs sued only the association and prevailed at trial. The trial court awarded the two plaintiffs the right to purchase dock space. However, the association had already sold the dock space to other residents of the association.

"Thus, in order to assign the 10-feet spaces to plaintiffs, the Association was required to take space paid for and given exclusively to other owners and award it to plaintiffs. Obviously, this cannot be carried out without affecting the interests of these other owners in the community. By any measure the other owners are indispensible parties, as the court described that term in Cummings...Surely the class of absent owners is not so large that joinder is impractical. Neither does it appear that any of the absent owners is a fugitive from justice as in Glancy v. First Western Bank, 802 So.2d 498 (Fla. 4th DCA 2001). We perceive no practical barrier to joining all the owners if the dock space is to be reallocated. All should be made parties and the case tried anew. The other issues can then be revisited."


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