Town of Palm Beach News

Town Wins Undergounding-Related Lawsuit

After bringing a lawsuit against the Town of Palm Beach that was struck down by a judge, a Palm Beach Towers-based firm has been ordered to pay for the cost of the town’s legal defense in the lawsuit, as first reported by the Palm Beach Daily News.

The firm brought a lawsuit against Palm Beach over its plan to assess property owners to pay for the islandwide undergrounding project currently in process in Palm Beach. 

Now, PBT Real Estate has been ordered to pay $121,377 in town attorneys’ fees and $8,306 in other expenses by U.S. District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks. 

Middlebrooks said that PBT Real Estate failed to address legal deficiencies in its claims, resulting in unnecessary costs and delay to the town. The judge found the lawsuit to be “frivolous, unreasonable [and] without foundation.”

The firm’s attorney declined to comment on the March 5 ruling. 

PBT Real Estate has 30 days to appeal the decision.

Town Wins Undergounding-Related Lawsuit

Because of the possibility of an appeal, Town Manager Kirk Blouin said he would not comment on the case, but “as a matter of policy our Town Council has directed out legal team to recover all legal costs related to defending frivolous lawsuits,” Blouin said.

Middlebrooks first ruled for the town in June without letting the case go to trial, a decision which was appealed to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

In the suit, PBT Real Estate contended that the owners of the 273 unites in the Towers building should not be assessed because their utilities are already buried. The suit attacked on the assessment plan on the grounds that it violated the firms’ right to due process and equal protection under the U.S. Constitution. 

Related >>> Undergrounding Project to Continue This Summer

Although both sides agreed that the utilities at the Towers were underground before the townwide project began in 2017, Middlebrooks said that the town demonstrated that it considered factors other than whether a parcel had already undergrounded its facilities when setting the assessments. 

The Towers’ board of directors said it was not involved with the suit. Palm beach County Property Appraiser Dorthy Jacks and Palm Beach County Tax Collector Anne Gannon were named as defendants in the suit. 

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Alanna Barrett

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