Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Lawsuit Seeking The Transfer Of Title In Real Property Is Proper Only In County Where Property Is Located

In Floridian Community Bank, Inc. v. Bloom (4D09-3195), the Fourth District granted a writ of prohibition because the trial court exceeded its subject matter jurisdiction.  A lawsuit seeking the transfer of title in real property must be brought in the county in which the real property is located.  The Fourth District stated:
Prohibition lies where a petitioner has demonstrated that a trial court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over a lawsuit. English v. McCrary, 348 So. 2d 293 (Fla. 1977). This case involves application of the “local action rule,” which governs subject matter jurisdiction, not venue. Hudlett v. Sanderson, 715 So. 2d 1050 (Fla. 4th DCA 1998); State Dep’t. of Nat’l Res. v. Antioch Univ., 533 So. 2d 869 (Fla. 1st DCA 1988).
In Ocean Bank v. State, Dept. of Fin. Serv., 902 So. 2d 833 (Fla. 1st DCA 2005), Ocean Bank sought prohibition on the grounds that the Leon Circuit Court was exceeding its subject matter jurisdiction in a receivership action by presiding over matters directly related to a foreclosure action pending against real property located in Dade County. Id. at 834. The first district applied the “local action rule” under which a suit primarily seeking transfer of title to real property is considered quasi in rem and is required to be brought in the county where the land is situated. Id. at 835.
The first district also found in Ocean Bank that the claim to void a mortgage was a compulsory counterclaim in the pending mortgage foreclosure action. Id. Similarly, in the present case, the respondents’ claims for breach of loan extension agreement, breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing, novation and rescission of the loan extension agreement involve parties, properties, facts and circumstances, and security instruments identical to those involved in FCB’s mortgage foreclosure action. Therefore, respondents’ claims “aris[e] out of the transaction or occurrence that is the subject matter” of FCB’s claim and are compulsory counterclaims properly brought pursuant to Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.170(a) in connection with FCB’s action in Collier County.


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