Damages Caused by Wrongful Recording of Lis Pendens (Not Founded on Instrument or Statute)
What are the damages caused by the WRONGFUL recording of a lis pendens, and I am referring to a lis pendens NOT founded on a duly recorded instrument (e.g., not founded on a mortgage) or a statute (e.g., not founded on a construction or assessment lien)? These are damages that should be accounted for in a lis pendens bond.
The recent opinion in LB Judgment Holdings, LLC v. Boschetti, 44 Fla.L.Weekly D693a (Fla. 3d DCA 2019), relying on Haisfeld v. ACP Florida Holdings, Inc., 629 So.2s 963 (Fla. 4thDCA 1993), explained:
Haisfield looks back at losses that were actually suffered by a property owner from a lis pendens found to be unjustified, rather than at prospective losses that might be suffered. Its methodology is the best yardstick for evaluating the market value component of damages that may result from a wrongfully-filed lis pendens. Haisfield instructs that such damages, if any, are measured by any decline in market value between the time the lis pendens is recorded and the time it is discharged. The proponent of a lis pendens might pay no damages if the market value increased substantially during that time.
Haisfield also recognizes that the expenses of preservation and maintenance of the property subject to a lis pendens may be awarded for the interval between recordation and discharge if the lis pendens is found to be unjustified and the expenses are a consequence of the unjustified lis pendens.
Now, what about loss of investment return / lost opportunity? For example, what if the lis pendens impacts a sale where there is a net market value for the property of “X” after taking the fair market value and deducting brokerage commissions, mortgage debt, and past due taxes. This amount would ultimately represent equity in the property that if the party had could then earn interest—in other words, there is a loss of use of that equity. See, e.g., LB Judgment Holdings, supra (party posting lis pendens bond proffered expert to produce computation to support what lis pendens bond amount should be; although the court required a higher lis pendens bond amount). However, this loss of investment return / lost opportunity could be a damages methodology in different situations as it pertains to a real property dispute depending on the circumstances of that dispute.
Also, attorney’s fees should be factored into the lis pendens bond that “foreseeably may be incurred in discharging a lis pendens.” S and T Builders v. Globe Properties, Inc., 944 So.2d 302 (Fla. 2006); accord LB Judgment Holdings, supra (rejecting argument that attorney’s fees include fees incurred during entire litigation as entire litigation is beyond fees incurred in discharging lis pendens).
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