Bresky Law in Boca Raton, Florida, recently helped its clients, who are landowners in Hendry County, to maintain the victory they had previously won in the trial court in a case involving the ejectment of squatters from their farmland and the assessment of damages for the squatters’ conversion of personal property.
The underlying case began when one of the landowners signed an agreement allowing an itinerant couple to reside in a mobile home on the land. The itinerant couple was supposed to build a fence around the property and purchase cows for a cattle operation. The couple were to be paid for their labor from proceeds of some eventual sales of cattle.
However, shortly after the owner signed the agreement, his health deteriorated to such a degree that it was no longer possible to operate a cattle business. To make matters worse, the itinerant couple breached the agreement by failing to perform the work they had agreed to do. The itinerant couple also unlawfully took certain personal property of the owner, such as a cattle trailer, valued at $5,000. The owner notified the couple that he no longer needed a fence and wished to sell the property. He notified them that they must vacate the land, but they refused.
The landowners sued the couple for ejectment from the land and for damages for conversion of personal property. The couple failed to appear for the trial. The landowners proceeded to present their evidence and won a judgment ordering the couple to vacate the property and to pay $5,000 in damages, plus costs. The couple later claimed that they had not been properly notified of the trial. The court rejected this claim because the couple had failed to keep the court and the landowners’ attorney apprised of their current mailing address, and the landowners acted properly in mailing the notice to an alternate address as specifically requested by the couple.
The couple appealed to Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal, arguing that the trial court had allegedly failed to let them raise certain arguments or to present evidence regarding their affirmative defense of setoff or their counterclaim for breach of contract. They also argued that they had not been properly served with certain documents by mail, such as the notice of trial. Additionally, the couple argued that they were entitled to an award of damages for the owner’s alleged breach of contract or, alternatively, that they should receive title to the land.
The landowners retained Bresky Law to represent their interests in the appeal and seek to uphold the trial court’s judgment. Among other points, we argued that the couple failed to provide a transcript to preserve any issue for appeal and that, without a transcript, it should be presumed that sufficient evidence existed to support the adjudication. We also argued that the judgment itself shows that the trial court expressly considered the contract and properly rejected the couple’s affirmative defenses and counterclaim.
As for the couple’s argument that the notice of trial was improper because it was mailed to the wife’s mother’s address, we showed that the couple had specifically asked for such documents to be mailed to that address shortly before the mailing was done, and the wife had admitted that she received other notices there such as a notice of a deposition. We also demonstrated that the couple were not entitled to any money damages or to the title to the land.
In sum, our Answer Brief demonstrated that the trial court provided due process, that the landowners proved their case, and that the judgment was legally and factually correct without any abuse of judicial discretion. We further pointed out that the couple’s appeal was marred by their failure to comply with various rules and principles of appellate procedure.
After carefully considering the couple’s contentions as well as our arguments on behalf of the landowners, the appellate court issued a per curiam affirmance in favor of our clients, the Appellees. We are pleased to see this favorable result which puts an end to the litigation and allows our clients to have peace of mind.
*The appellate decision is not final until the time for filing a post-decision motion has expired or, if such motion is filed, it is decided.