In most breach of contract cases, the correct remedy for any wrongdoing by the defendant is an award of money damages reflecting the extent of the economic losses that the plaintiff proved. In some circumstances, though, when a case revolves around a parcel of property, it may be true that the only way for that victim of breach to be what the law calls “made whole” (meaning fully compensated) is by an order of specific performance, which means forcing the owner to transfer the property to the plaintiff who was harmed by the breach. Whether the recovery you need is an award of money damages or an award of specific performance, make sure you have the adept legal representation your case needs by retaining a skilled South Florida real estate attorney.
So, what does it take to get specific performance – or to keep your opponent from getting specific performance – in Florida? A recent contract dispute case from Miami offers a good illustration.
In 2008, a developer group purchased a property in the financial district. Within that 2008 sales contract, the buyer and the seller included a provision creating an option for the seller to repurchase the property. In 2015, after the seller unsuccessfully sought to exercise that option, it sued for breach of contract.
Specific performance is a remedy that courts in Florida are very hesitant to award, so, if you are the defendant in a case where the other side is seeking a court order that would force you to sell, be aware that there are some fairly high hurdles the other side has to clear.
Florida law is very clear that, when a plaintiff asks for “specific performance of an alleged contract for the sale of real estate,” it must not only prove its case, it must demonstrate that the contract terms as alleged were “clear, definite and certain.”
That is a fairly difficult standard to meet, and it is where the buyer (the defendant in this Miami case) was able to secure its victory. The seller did have proof that a repurchase option existed, and had ample proof that it provided a valid “notice of intent to exercise the repurchase option.” In some scenarios, that might be all an option holder would need to satisfy the law’s requirements and win a remedy of specific performance.
In this case, it was not enough. The trial judge found that the option holder (the plaintiff) lacked proper proof that it “stood ‘ready, willing, and able” to tender payment.’” It also lacked adequate evidence that it had met certain other “contractually stipulated terms and conditions.” Because the plaintiff fell short in these essential areas, it was not entitled to specific performance.
Whatever the claims are in your option agreement or other dispute and whatever the remedies are that you’re seeking, it pays to have the right legal team on your side. Count on the experienced South Florida real estate attorneys at Stok Kon + Braverman to protect your business interests in whatever legal action you’re facing.
Contact us online or by calling (954) 237-1777 to schedule your consultation and learn more about how you can put the power of this office to work for you.