Legal Report, November 2013
General Counsel, Trela J. White
1. Town of Gulf Stream et al vs. Palm Beach County, and Sharon R. Bock, as Clerk and Comptroller of Palm Beach County, Intervenor
Case No. 502011CA017953XXXXMB. Inspector General Funding Lawsuit.
Fourteen municipalities sued Palm Beach County challenging the method of funding for the Inspector General Program (the “OIG Program”). The current funding method authorizes the Board of County Commissioners to set an amount the municipalities must pay for the OIG Program, and to bill municipalities for that amount. The municipalities contend that the current funding method is an unlawful tax and invades municipal home rule budgetary authority. The case has been noticed for trial. Calendar call is scheduled for December 20, 2013. At calendar call, the Trial Judge will assign the case a trial date sometime during the period of January 6, 2014 through January 31, 2014.
The Municipalities’ Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on the issue of sovereign immunity is scheduled for November 25, 2013 at 9:30 a.m. In this Motion, the Municipalities argue that the County’s efforts to force them to pay for the OIG Program are barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity.
2. City of Orlando and Lasercraft, Inc. vs. Michael Udowychenko, etc.
Case Number SC12-1471. Red Light Cameras.
This case was reported on at the July 2012 League meeting and the details are contained in the July Legal Update, which is located on the League’s website. The Florida Supreme Court heard oral argument on November 7, 2013. No further action has been taken by the Court at this time.
3. South Florida Water Management District v. RLI Live Oak LLC
Case Number SC12-2336. New Heightened Evidentiary Burden To Enforce Regulatory Programs Through Monetary Penalties.
This case was reported on at the January 2013 League meeting and the details are contained in the January 2013 Legal Update, which is located on the League’s website. On March 7, 2013, the Florida Supreme Court accepted jurisdiction of the case. All briefs have been filed. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Office of the Attorney General were permitted to file amicus curiae briefs in support of the South Florida Water Management District. On October 24, 2013, the Court denied RLI Live Oak LLC’s motion to file responses to the amicus briefs. The South Florida Water Management District’s request for oral argument has been denied. No further action has been taken by the Court at this time. This case is important to municipalities because it involves what standard must be used in imposing regulatory penalties on code violators. The South Florida Water Management District argues they should only have to prove a regulatory violation by the traditional “preponderance of the evidence” standard. The landowners involved in the case argue that a regulatory violation must be proven by the higher “clear and convincing evidence” standard before monetary penalties may be imposed.