Rybovich Boat Works, Inc. v. Atkins

585 So. 2d 270 (1991)

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Rybovich Boat Works, Inc. v. Atkins

Florida Supreme Court
585 So. 2d 270 (1991)

Facts

In June 1985, Rybovich Boat Works, Inc. (RBW) (plaintiff) entered into a contract to sell real property to Randall Atkins (defendant). The contract required Atkins to notice and arrange the closing no later than December 5, 1987. Atkins never noticed the closing, and the closing never took place. In February 1988, RBW sent a default letter to Atkins. Atkins responded shortly after with his own default letter. Two weeks later, RBW entered into a new contract to sell the property to a different buyer. In March 1988, shortly before the scheduled closing, Atkins called the title-company and claimed an outstanding interest in the property pursuant to the failed contract-of-sale. As a result, the title-company refused to provide title-insurance for the property, and the sale to the new buyer fell through. In May 1988, RBW filed a tort action against Atkins seeking damages, an injunction, and a quiet-title order. Atkins filed a counterclaim for specific-performance and breach-of-contract. RBW challenged, arguing that Atkins’s specific-performance counterclaim was time-barred because it was not raised within the applicable one-year statute-of-limitations. The trial court agreed and granted RBW summary-judgment. Atkins appealed, arguing that the applicable statute-of-limitations did not bar him from raising specific-performance as a compulsory counterclaim. RBW countered, arguing that allowing time-barred specific-performance claims to be raised as compulsory counterclaims would unjustly restrict the alienability of real estate. On appeal, the appellate court reversed, holding that, under the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling in Allie v. Ionata, the expiration of the specific-performance statute-of-limitations did not bar Atkins from raising a specific-performance counterclaim. The appellate court then certified a question of great public importance to the Florida Supreme Court about whether an otherwise time-barred claim for specific-performance could be raised as a compulsory counterclaim.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Kogan, J.)

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