Orange County Florida Courthouse

Appellate Wins

Appellate Cases Won By Attorney Michael Brownlee

The following Florida Civil and Federal Criminal briefs are a sample of some of the appellate cases that Attorney Michael Brownlee has won.

Click each victory below for links to the briefs and a description of the appeal.

Black Bear Reserve Homeowner's Association Inc. v. Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America,227 So. 3d 596 (Fla. 5th DCA 2017)

Boumarate v. HSBC Bank USA, N.A.,172 So. 3d 535 (Fla. 5th DCA 2015)

D.T. v. J.M.,241 So. 3d 912 (Fla. 2d DCA 2018)

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Dippolito v. State, 143 So. 3d 1080 (Fla. 4th DCA 2014)

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Nieto v. Mobile Gardens Assn. of Englewood, Inc.,130 So. 3d 236 (Fla. 2d DCA 2013)

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This is another example of the rarest and most valuable of appellate victories: a reversal with directions that judgment be entered in favor of the appellant without further proceedings at the trial level. This appeal had a bonus too: the appellate court ordered the other side to pay the appellate attorneys’ fees associated with Mr. Brownlee’s services.

Mr. Brownlee represented the Appellants in this appeal—seven residents of the Mobile Gardens development in Englewood, Florida. The homeowner’s association (“HOA”) was the Appellee.  The HOA was trying to evict the tenants, claiming that pursuant to the HOA bylaws, only 55 and older individuals were permitted to live in the community. The residents fought the evictions, but the trial court found the age restrictions were valid and entered judgment in favor of the HOA.  The residents retained Mr. Brownlee for the appeal.

On appeal, Mr. Brownlee contended the HOA did not have the legal authority to enforce its bylaws. The Second District Court of Appeal concurred. The Second DCA held that the HOA could not enforce the age restrictions, reversed the final judgment, and ordered the HOA to pay the appellate attorney’s fees incurred by the residents. After the Second DCA rendered its opinion in favor of Mr. Brownlee’s clients, the HOA moved for rehearing, requesting that the Second DCA reconsider its decision or certify a question of great public importance to the Florida Supreme Court pursuant to Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.330. Mr. Brownlee successfully defended against the motion for rehearing.  The Second DCA denied the HOA’s request for rehearing, leaving the appellate victory intact.

Paramo & D.M.P Builders and Associates, Inc. v. Floyd,154 So. 3d 477 (Fla. 2d DCA 2015)

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Rautenberg vs Falz,193 So. 3d 924 (Fla. 2d DCA 2016)

Rutan vs Rutan,142 So. 3d 1 (Fla. 2d DCA 2014)

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In this family law appeal, Mr. Brownlee’s client was a former husband who was ordered by a trial court to pay monthly alimony to his ex-wife. Mr. Brownlee appealed the alimony decision to Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal and maintained that the trial court failed to make the necessary findings in support of the amount of alimony awarded. Mr. Brownlee also argued that the record suggested his client was unable to pay alimony. The Second District reversed.  The Second DCA held the trial court’s alimony decision could not be affirmed because the trial court did not make appropriate findings to justify the alimony amount. Due to the absence of such findings, the Second DCA could not conclusively determine whether Mr. Brownlee’s client had the ability to pay any amount of alimony. Consequently, the Second DCA remanded the case back to the trial court to make the requisite findings. In addition, the Second DCA noted in its opinion that the record evidence indicated the amount of alimony awarded exhausts the former husband’s income, in contravention of well-settled Florida law.

Scott v. Carpanzano,556 Fed.App’x 288 (5th Cir. 2014)

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Seecharan vs United States,523 Fed.App’x 679 (11th Cir. 2013)

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This was an appeal Mr. Brownlee will never forget. His client was a severely disabled individual who pleaded guilty to a non-violent offense in federal court. At sentencing, the client’s trial attorney presented letters from the client’s doctors who opined that imprisonment could lead to amputation of the client’s legs, or even death. The Government did not even attempt to introduce evidence at sentencing suggesting that the Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) would be able to deal with the client’s medical needs.  More importantly, the Government did not attempt to assure the sentencing judge that detention in BOP would not result in the terrible fate predicted by the treating physicians. Incredibly, the district court sentenced Mr. Brownlee’s client to immurement in a BOP facility based on the hollow and unsupported claim from the Government that the BOP could “handle anything.”

Mr. Brownlee appealed the client’s sentence to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. While the appeal was pending, Mr. Brownlee filed a motion with the sentencing court requesting that his client be allowed to remain in home confinement until the appeal was decided. The sentencing court denied Mr. Brownlee’s motion and ordered the client to report to the BOP facility to which he’d been assigned to begin serving his sentence while the appeal ran its course. Not content with this result, and extremely concerned about his client’s safety, Mr. Brownlee filed an emergency request with the Eleventh Circuit, asking the Eleventh Circuit to review the sentencing court’s denial of his motion for home-confinement pending appeal. The Eleventh Circuit promptly reversed the sentencing court’s denial of Mr. Brownlee’s motion and ordered that his client be allowed to remain in home confinement until the appeal was resolved.

The Eleventh Circuit ultimately reversed the sentence in whole and remanded for resentencing. The Eleventh Circuit agreed with Mr. Brownlee that the sentence of imprisonment was procedurally unreasonable because the sentencing court’s conclusion that BOP could “handle anything” was a clearly erroneous factual determination, as no evidence suggested the Bureau’s claim was accurate.

SolarBlue, LLC v. Bennett Jones, LLP,232 So. 3d 1185 (Fla. 5th DCA 2018)

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Springhill Missionary Baptist Church, Inc. v. Mobley, 1D17-1218, 2018 WL 3351245 (Fla. 1st DCA 2018)

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State v. Lucas,183 So. 3d 1027 (Fla. 2016)

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Sybac Solar, GMBH v. 6th Street Solar Energy Park of Gainesville, LLC, 217 So. 3d 1068 (Fla. 2d DCA 2017)

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The Langley Limited Partnership, LLP vs School Board of Lake County, Florida,113 So. 3d 995 (Fla. 5th DCA 2013)

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The Langley Limited Partnership (“Langley”) spent years litigating in Lake County Circuit Court against the School Board of Lake County (“School Board”) regarding a contract dispute and a parcel of land. The contract between the parties provided that by a specific date, Langley had to deed over a parcel of property to the School Board. Langley lost at the trial level and Final Judgment was entered in favor of the School Board.  Mr. Brownlee handled Langley’s appeal.  Mr. Brownlee argued on appeal that the School Board’s lawsuit was time-barred by the Statute of Limitations. The Fifth District Court of Appeal agreed with Langley and reversed the Final Judgment in favor of the School Board and ordered that Final Judgment should instead be entered in favor of Langley.  A reversal on appeal is difficult enough, but a reversal with directions that judgment be entered in favor of an appellant without further proceedings in the trial court is extremely rare.

United States vs Kelley,774 F.3d 434 (8th Cir. 2014)

Welch v. Welch,244 So. 3d 1054 (Fla. 2d DCA 2018)

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Mr. Welch retained Mr. Brownlee after his ex-wife filed a Petition for Writ of Prohibition with Florida's Second District Court of Appeal.  The ex-wife filed her Petition for Writ of Prohibition after the trial judge presiding over the Welches' dissolution of marriage proceedings denied the ex-wife's request to have the judge recused.  Mr. Brownlee filed a response to the Petition for Writ of Prohibition and argued the trial court's denial of the motion to recuse was proper.  The Second District Court of Appeal agreed and denied the Petition for Writ of Prohibition.