Allie v. Ionata

503 So. 2d 1237 (1987)

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Allie v. Ionata

Florida Supreme Court
503 So. 2d 1237 (1987)

Facts

Robert Allie (plaintiff) was Fred Ionata’s (defendant) accountant. On Allie’s recommendation, Ionata purchased parcels of land from Allie on a payment plan to act as tax shelters. Several years later, Ionata discovered he had been severely overcharged and sued Allie to rescind the contract-of-sale, alleging breach-of-fiduciary-duty and fraud. Allie countered, arguing that the rescission statute-of-limitations had expired, and filed a counterclaim for the outstanding balance owed under the contract-of-sale. The trial court denied Allie’s counterclaim and rescinded the contract-of-sale, holding that Allie had breached his fiduciary-duty to Ionata. Allie appealed. On appeal, the appellate court reversed and remanded, holding that Ionata’s rescission claim was time-barred by the statute-of-limitations (the Allie I ruling). Ionata did not appeal. On remand, Allie pursued his revived counterclaim to enforce payment under the contract-of-sale. Ionata pleaded a recoupment affirmative defense for the overpayment he made under the contract-of-sale and, through what was effectively a counter-counterclaim, again sought to rescind the contract-of-sale. The trial court rescinded the contract-of-sale. Allie appealed, arguing that Ionata’s right to seek rescission, a form of affirmative relief, was (1) barred by the rescission statute-of-limitations; and (2) barred by res-judicata based on the Allie I ruling. The appellate court (a) partially-reversed, holding that, because the rescission statute-of-limitations had expired, Ionata was not entitled to rescind the contract-of-sale; and (b) partially-affirmed, holding that Ionata could assert a recoupment defense against Allie but only up to the amount Allie claimed as the outstanding contract-of-sale balance. The appellate court then certified a question to the Florida Supreme Court regarding whether a defendant was prohibited from filing a compulsory counterclaim in recoupment seeking affirmative relief that would otherwise be time-barred by the relevant statute-of-limitations.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Barkett, J.)

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