October 13, 2023
GrayRobinson Shareholders Rachael Crews and Tom Cloud before the Circuit Court for the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit, the Fourth District Court of Appeal, and the Florida Supreme Court prevailed on behalf of the City of Vero Beach (City) in a lawsuit brought by the Town of Indian River Shores (Town). The Town brought a breach of contract lawsuit against the City, arguing that the City had to abide by utility contract rates that would have caused it to operate at a financial loss, resulting in City residents subsidizing Town residents for utility services. Recognizing that a defense focused solely on the facts of the case might result in the Town bringing a second lawsuit based on more recent utility rate changes, the GrayRobinson team opted for an “all in” approach, requesting a ruling on the broader legal doctrine of reserved powers. The team successfully argued first in circuit court and then on appeal that making exceptions for utility contract rates for the Town would violate the reserved powers doctrine and over one century of Florida rate-making jurisprudence. These crucial wins effectively shut the door to any additional legal actions and underscored the City’s commitment to establishing utility infrastructure that serves its customers safely and ensures fair payment from all customers. Following the appellate court decision, the Town attempted to elevate jurisdiction to the Florida Supreme Court. The Supreme Court declined, making it clear they would not entertain a rehearing motion. The three cases in this win include Town of Indian River Shores v. City of Vero Beach, 2020-CA-576; Town of Indian River Shores v. City of Vero Beach, 4D22-1646; and Town of Indian River Shores v. City of Vero Beach, SC2023-1124. Read – GrayRobinson Litigation and Real Estate and Land Use Sections Use Reserved Powers Doctrine to Secure Significant Wins for City of Vero Beach.