The main newspaper out of Broward County, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, reports here on recently filed lawsuits by condo purchasers against the developer of Veranda at Plantation.
As is becoming typical with condo purchaser lawsuits, the plaintiffs have alleged a mix of state and federal claims. Under Florida state law, the buyers claim that the developer backed out of promises to refund deposits once the market tanked. Under federal law, the buyers allege that the developer failed to register the development with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and to provide the buyers with what is known as a “HUD Property Report.” I’ve discussed the latter federal issue more generally and in some detail here.
While asserting both state and federal claims of this nature is common, what is unusual is that the same buyers apparently filed two separate lawsuits, one in state court and one in federal court. Typically, if plaintiffs have both state and federal claims arising out of a single circumstance, they will bring a single action alleging both sets of claims (either in state or federal court). Generally speaking, “splitting” causes of action is prohibited by the claim splitting doctrine, see Tyson v. Viacom, Inc. (Fla. 4th DCA 2005), although it is not inconceivable that the Veranda plaintiffs could get past that doctrine in this case. If so, I suppose there could be a strategic advantage in getting two bites at the apple through two separate lawsuits. At the same, however, in my experience, quantity does not substitute for quality when it comes to lawsuits, and it is often better to focus resources into pursuing a single well-crafted complaint. I will be interested to see how the Veranda plaintiffs’ strategy pans out.
This article does not constitute legal advice or the formation of an attorney-client relationship, and is not for re-publication without express permission of the author.
Mr. Beck has a law degree from Harvard Law School, and practices law in the courts of South Florida. A significant portion of his practice is devoted to issues arising under condominium purchase agreements. He can be reached at 305-789-0072 or email@example.com