The kids show Sesame Street began running in 1969 and provided useful lessons for kids. Sesame Street featured the characters Bert and Ernie. Ernie would greet Bert each time with “Hey, Bert!” Today, I’d like to focus on another “Bert” that impacts property owners — The Bert J. Harris, Jr., Private Property Rights Protection Act (the “Act”).
Vale v. Palm Beach County
As mentioned in a previous post, the Florida Supreme Court strictly interprets the Act and the Fourth District Court of Appeal has followed the Supreme Court’s lead and provides a useful lesson in the decision Vale v. Palm Beach County.
In the Vale case, the plaintiffs owned homes in a planned unit development next to a golf course. The golf course owner obtained permission from Palm Beach County to redevelop the golf course. After that, the plaintiffs sued the County under the Bert Harris Act, claiming the redevelopment diminished the value of their homes.
The County moved to dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds the County had taken no direct action against the plaintiffs’ property and therefore the Bert Harris Act did not apply. The trial court granted the County’s motion to dismiss and the Fourth District Court of Appeal upheld the dismissal, citing the Florida Supreme Court’s opinion in Hardee County, Florida v. FINR II, Inc., which specified that
“Owners whose property has not been directly acted upon by a governmental entity may not state a claim under the [Bert Harris] Act.”
As previously blogged, if it’s not your property, you have no claim under the Bert Harris Act. Claims involving government acts or regulation and their impact on real property can be complicated and we may be able to help. Please feel to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 239-344-1326.