Europco Management Company of America v. Smith

572 So. 2d 963 (1990)

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Europco Management Company of America v. Smith

Florida District Court of Appeal
572 So. 2d 963 (1990)

Facts

Europco Management Company (Europco) (plaintiff) sued Stephen and Ruth Smith (defendants), development homeowners, to enforce protective covenants that required the Smiths to get prior approval from the development’s architectural-review committee (the committee) before they constructed a screen porch at the rear of their house. The committee consisted of representatives of the developer and of the homeowners, and other representatives. The covenants also empowered the developer—or a delegated committee—to control exterior architectural design and construction to maintain a consistent and compatible design. When the committee discovered the unapproved porch construction, the Smiths stopped construction and filed an application through their representative with the committee for approval. The committee rejected the Smiths’ plan because the exterior materials were not harmonious with those of other houses and because the roof overhang did not conform to restrictions. The Smiths alleged that they were denied due process because they were not allowed to personally appear before the committee. The chair of the homeowner group on the committee explained that the purpose of that procedure was to ensure that committee members made their decisions objectively, which they did not feel they could do if their neighbors appeared in person before them. The process did, however, invite all applicants to communicate with the committee by letter. The trial court, without citing any authority, found, among other things, that the Smiths’ due-process rights had been violated. The association appealed, and the Smiths failed in their brief to defend the trial court’s ruling on the due-process issue and conceded the issue at oral argument, stating that they abandoned it.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Zehmer, J.)

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