Justia Florida Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Environmental Law
by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) allowing the Florida Power and Light Company (FPL) to recover certain environmental compliance costs from ratepayers pursuant to Fla. Stat. 366.8255, known as the Environmental Cost Recovery Clause, holding that the PSC's findings were supported by competent, substantial evidence. On appeal, the Citizens of the state of Florida, the Office of Public Counsel argued, among other things, that section 366.8255 limits cost recovery to costs incurred in preventing future environmental harm. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) because of the nature of the environmental harm at issue in this case, prevention and remediation were inextricably intertwined, and therefore OPC's reading of section 366.8255(1)(c) is rejected; and (2) the PSC did not err when it determined the costs of a consent order and consent agreement were within the scope of a 2009 monitoring plan, for which the PSC had previously approved recovery. View "Citizens of State of Florida v. Brown" on Justia Law

by
The South Florida Water Management District alleged that RLI, Live Oak, LLC, a land developer and owner of property that purportedly contained wetlands, participated in unauthorized dredging, construction activity, and filling of wetlands without first obtaining the District’s approval. The circuit court entered judgment in favor of the District and awarded the District $81,900 in civil penalties. The district court reversed, holding that the trial court erred in basing its findings on a preponderance of the evidence standard and not the clear and convincing evidence standard. On motion for rehearing or certification, the district court certified a question for a determination by the Supreme Court of the proper burden of proof. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that where the Legislature statutorily authorizes a state governmental agency to recover a “civil penalty” in a “court of competent jurisdiction” but does not specify the agency’s burden of proof, the agency is not required to prove the alleged violation by clear and convincing evidence but, rather, by a preponderance of the evidence. View "S. Fla. Water Mgmt. Dist. v. RLI Live Oak, LLC" on Justia Law

by
In this case, the court considered an appeal from a final circuit court judgment validating revenue bonds proposed to be issued by the county to finance a beach restoration project. The court held that appellants erroneously contended that in adopting the Assessment Resolution, the county failed to comply with the requirements of its MSBU Ordinance, and as a result, the circuit court lacked jurisdiction; appellants contention, that the county failed to demonstrate that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) would issue the permits at issue for the beach renourishment project and thus the circuit court erred in validating the bonds, was rejected; beach and shore preservation projects confronted a critical threat to the welfare of the people of the state and those special benefits that flow incidentally to certain properties because of the nature of the project did not diminish its predominately public nature; competent, substantial evidence supported the trial court's determination that the county's methodology was fair and reasonable; and regardless of how much sand was added outside the boundaries of the MSBU, the special benefits were nevertheless provided. Accordingly, the court affirmed the circuit court's final judgment of validation of the bonds. View "Donovan, et al. v. Okaloosa County, FL, etc., et al." on Justia Law