The Florida Bar
www.floridabar.org
The Florida Bar Journal
January, 2017 Volume 91, No. 1
The Florida Homeowners Construction Recovery Fund: How to Collect from an Uncollectible Contractor

by Diane S. Perera and Erik G. Ross

Page 46


The Florida Homeowners’ Construction Recovery Fund (Fund) was established in 1993 in order “to compensate consumers who suffer monetary damages as a result of certain violations by licensed contractors.”1 The Fund’s legislative purpose is to “compensate an aggrieved claimant who contracted for the construction or improvement of the homeowner’s residence2 located within this state and who has obtained a final judgment in a court of competent jurisdiction, was awarded restitution by the Florida Construction Industry Licensing Board (CILB), or received an award in arbitration against a licensee based on specified acts.”3 The CILB is a professional licensing board within the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR).4 The Fund provides a remedy for claimants that becomes available once the claimant has exhausted diligent efforts to seek reimbursement from the contractor.5

What is the Florida Homeowners’ Construction Fund?
The Fund is a special account within the State of Florida’s Professional Regulation Trust Fund funded by the allocation of 0.675 percent of all permit fees assessed by local governments with Florida Building Code enforcement authority.6 It provides financial assistance to Florida homeowners7 who meet certain requirements. Today, the Fund covers contracts for residential work with Division I and Division II contractors licensed by the CILB. Division I contractors consist of general, residential, and building contractor licensees. Division II contractors consist of sheet metal, roofing, air conditioning, mechanical, pool and spa, plumbing, underground utility and excavation, solar, pollutant storage systems, and specialty contractors.8 However, contracts with Division II contractors entered into between July 1, 2004, and July 1, 2016, are not covered by the Fund.9

How Do Homeowners Access the Fund?
There are only three ways for homeowners to gain access to the Fund: 1) obtaining a final judgment against a contractor in a civil proceeding that is based upon a specific violation of the licensing law or the lien law; 2) obtaining an arbitration award (which is typically confirmed and becomes a final judgment) against a contractor that is based upon a specific violation of the licensing law or the lien law; or 3) obtaining an order of restitution from the CILB through the disciplinary administrative process that is based upon a specific violation of the licensing law.10 The final judgment, arbitration award, or CILB final order of restitution must directly arise from events or transactions that occurred when the contractor was licensed, must be based on acts set forth in F.S. §489.129(1)(g), (j), or (k), or F.S. §713.35,11 and must specify the actual damages12 that arose from the violation. Applications for recovery that meet the above criteria must be filed with the CILB within one year of the conclusion of any civil action, administrative action, or award in arbitration.13

The licensing violations upon which the final judgment, arbitration award, or order of restitution must be based on one of the following: 1) failing to remove construction liens on property for labor, services, or materials for which the contractor has been paid; 2) abandoning a project when the value of work is less than the amount paid; 3) cost overruns on the project that are not attributable to the owner; 4) abandoning a project without just cause or notice to the owner; or 5) issuing false lien releases or false statements regarding the existence of bonds or insurance.14

The CILB is charged with and authorized to administer the Fund.15 Once a homeowner has obtained a judgment, arbitration award, or order of restitution, the homeowner submits a claim, and the Fund is accessed through an administrative procedure governed by the Florida Administrative Procedure Act (APA), codified in F.S. Ch. 120.16 The administrative laws and rules that govern the Fund process will be discussed later in this article.

Accessing the Fund with a Civil Final Judgment
It is well established in Florida that the contractor licensing law, codified in F.S. Ch. 489, does not create a private right of action for a litigant.17 Obtaining a civil final judgment that includes findings related to violations of the contractor licensing law that enables access to the Fund can be complicated. Many times, the acts or omissions that constitute a breach of contract claim against a contractor will also constitute the type of licensing violation that allows a claimant to access the Fund.

When evaluating a homeowner’s civil case against a contractor, the evaluation should include whether the same facts support any of the violations that allow access to the Fund as identified in F.S. Ch. 489. For example, if there is an unjustified cessation of work, there may be an abandonment under F.S. §489.129(1)(j). If liens have been recorded and the contractor has been paid, there may be financial mismanagement consistent with F.S. §489.129(1)(g)(1). If work stopped and the contractor was overpaid, there may be financial mismanagement consistent with F.S. §489.129(1)(g)(2). If there were cost overruns not attributable to the homeowner, there may be financial mismanagement consistent with F.S. §489.129(1)(g)(3). If the contractor has signed false releases or misrepresented the existence of bonds or insurance, there may be a violation consistent with F.S. §489.129(1)(k) and F.S. §713.35.

If any facts are present that are consistent with the specified licensing violations, they should be pled by framing the allegations to correspond to the statutory language, but there should not be a citation to the statute in the civil claim. If the statutory provision is cited, the risk arises that it may be considered an attempt to pursue a private cause of action against the contractor, which the law prohibits. If the facts are pled in the complaint as a basis for a breach of contract claim, and the case concludes with the entry of a final judgment, the facts that supported the civil claim and the licensing violation should be included in the final judgment. Further, the actual damages the homeowner suffered that directly arose from the violation, must be specified in the final judgment.18

Even though the Fund is a remedial act that should be liberally construed in favor of the claimant,19 accessing the Fund can be a cumbersome process. Each claimant has the burden of proving his or her entitlement to recovery from the Fund.20 While the Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) no longer has authority to hear Fund claims, guidance can be taken from DOAH recommended orders to discern the burden a claimant must meet to prove his or her entitlement to recover from the Fund. An analysis of DOAH-recommended orders reveals that if the facts that support the licensing violations allowing Fund access are apparent from the face of the final judgment, the administrative process to access the Fund will be much more straightforward.21

Similarly, DOAH-recommended orders have stated that if the facts supporting the licensing violations that allow Fund access are not apparent on the face of the final judgement, the homeowner must present sufficient evidence to establish the licensing violations.22 The common trend among DOAH-recommended orders is that a final judgment should expressly state that it is based on an act that constitutes a licensing violation that allows access to the Fund, and it should state the actual damages suffered as a consequence of the licensing violation.23

In cases in which the final judgment was not sufficiently specific to ensure access to the Fund, administrative law judges (ALJ) have considered whether the allegations in the complaint refer to facts that support licensing violations that would allow access to the Fund.24 However, having to present evidence of the underlying violations that support a civil final judgment is a more time consuming, difficult, costly, and uncertain process. Structuring the civil complaint so that the facts supporting the licensing violations are ultimately apparent on the face of the final judgment is the better practice.25

The DOAH cases also suggest that the final judgment cannot be the result of a stipulated agreement or settlement between the parties that does not show evidence of the assigned value of actual damages suffered as a result of the licensing violation.26

Accessing the Fund with an Arbitration Award
The same evaluation and efforts to structure a civil complaint and a final judgment should be utilized at the onset of arbitration proceedings. While the statute seemingly allows access to the Fund solely with an arbitration award, the arbitration award should be confirmed and converted to a final judgment for purposes of execution.27 As a prerequisite to recovery, claimants are required to have unsuccessfully attempted to execute on the judgment.28 Further, claimants are required to establish that “exhaustive efforts have been made to determine whether the contractor possesses any property or assets with which to satisfy the underlying judgment, order of restitution, or award in arbitration, in whole or in part, and that no such property or assets have been identified or located.”29 Confirming the arbitration award and converting the arbitration award to a final judgment allows the claimant to satisfy the requirement that attempts to collect on the underlying arbitration award have been unsuccessful.30

Accessing the Fund with an Order of Restitution from the CILB
The CILB has the authority to order restitution to a consumer31 through the disciplinary process.32 If a consumer files a complaint against the contractor’s license and it is prosecuted by the DBPR, a final order may, at the conclusion of the disciplinary process, be issued that imposes an order of restitution and discipline upon the contractor. The administrative complaint filed by the DBPR, which is the formal charging document against the contractor, must contain factual allegations that set forth violations of F.S. §489.129(1)(g), (j), or (k). The difference between the factual allegations in a civil judgment and the administrative complaint is that the administrative complaint will actually charge the contractor with violating F.S. §489.129(1)(g), (j), or (k) and will seek to impose discipline on the contractor for the statutory violation.

Once the CILB enters a final order imposing restitution and the appellate period has expired or been completed, the homeowner may file a separate claim with the Fund. Establishing that the order of restitution is based upon a violation of the licensing law that allows Fund access is a simpler process because the violations are specified on the face of the underlying administrative complaint.

What the Fund Will Pay
Since the creation of the fund in 1993, the maximum amount that the Fund will pay on behalf of a contractor has varied. Determining the amount a claimant may be entitled to is based upon the contract date33 and the statute in effect at the time of the contract. Initially, the Fund would pay the unsatisfied portion of the judgment or the amount of the judgment, less post-judgment interest, up to $25,000.34 Additionally, payouts for claims that arose from the same transaction were limited to $25,000 in the aggregate, regardless of the number of claimants involved in the transaction,35 and payouts based upon judgments against a single contractor would not exceed $50,000 in the aggregate.36

In 1996, the Florida Legislature amended the statute and increased Fund payouts based on judgments against a single contractor to $100,000 in the aggregate.37 In 1998, the Florida Legislature again amended the statute and increased Fund payouts against a single contractor to $100,000 in the aggregate annually, with a total aggregate cap of $250,000.38 However, approved payouts that exceed the annual cap can be funded the following year up to the cap of $250,000.39

In 2004, the Florida Legislature significantly amended the statute and removed Division II trade contractors from the definition of contractors subject to the Fund.40 Any Fund claimants entering into contracts with Division II trade contractors after July 1, 2004, were no longer eligible to access the Fund, even if the claimant met all other criteria for recovery. Payouts from the Fund attributable to court costs, interest, attorneys’ fees, medical damages, and punitive damages were also expressly prohibited.41 The 2004 amendment also increased the Fund payout to a single claimant from $25,000 to $50,000.42 Additionally, Fund payments for each contract entered into after July 1, 2004, were limited to a total aggregate cap of $500,000.43

For contracts entered into after July 1, 2016, claimants may only recover the amount equal to the judgment, award, restitution order, or $25,000, whichever is less, or an amount equal to the unsatisfied portion of the judgment, award, or restitution order, but only to the amount of actual damages,44 and only to the maximum of $25,000 for Division I contractors, and $15,000 for Division II contractors.45 Fund payments cannot exceed the total aggregate for each contractor, and the total aggregate Division I payout remains $500,000, and Division II claims for contracts entered into after July 1, 2016, are limited to $150,000.46

The Administrative Process to Access the Fund
Once a claimant files an application for recovery from the Fund, procedural due process protections apply, and the procedure is governed by F.S. Ch. 120, the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).47 Initially, a claim is filed with the Fund utilizing a form that is specified by CILB rule.48 The claim form must be accompanied by a copy of a) the civil complaint, the administrative complaint, or the arbitration petition; b) a certified copy of the civil judgment, CILB restitution order, or arbitration award; c) a copy of the claimant’s contract and change orders; d) proof of payment to the contractor or subcontractors; e) copies of notices to owner, recorded construction liens, satisfactions, or releases of lien; f) copies of payment or performance bonds, warranties, letters of credit, and insurance policies, if applicable; g) certified copies of levy and execution documents, and documentation establishing unsuccessful efforts to collect the judgment or restitution order.49

Upon receipt of the fully completed claim form, the CILB will issue a notice of hearing to the claimant and the contractor,50 no less than 14 days prior to the hearing.51 The notice will provide the date, time, and location and the intended action of the Fund.52 The contractor’s substantial interests are affected because upon the Fund’s payment to the claimant, the contractor’s license will immediately be suspended, and it will remain suspended until the contractor reimburses the Fund.53 The claimant’s substantial interests are affected because of the potential for monetary recovery from the Fund.

F.S. §489.142(2) requires the Fund to conduct the hearing in accordance with F.S. §120.569 and §120.57(2). F.S. §120.569 and §120.57(2) procedures apply when the substantial interests of the contractor and the claimant are determined by the agency. F.S. §120.57(2) requires the agency to review the written record in support of the Fund claim and allow the claimant, contractor, or counsel to “present to the agency or hearing officer written or oral evidence in opposition to the action of the agency or to its refusal to act, or a written statement challenging the grounds upon which the agency has chosen to justify its action or inaction.”54

The hearing before the Fund is the only opportunity a claimant and a contractor have to be heard by the Fund. F.S. §120.57(2) hearings are administrative hearings that do not involve disputed issues of material facts. Traditionally, if a disputed issue of fact arises during a hearing, either party could request that the informal hearing terminate and be forwarded to DOAH for a formal hearing involving disputed issues of material fact, pursuant to F.S. §120.57(1).55 However, the F.S. §120.57(2) hearings before the Fund no longer permit either party to terminate the hearing and procced to a hearing involving disputed issues of fact before DOAH. F.S. §489.142(3) provides, in relevant part: “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, board hearings on claims shall be conducted in accordance with ss. 120.569 and 120.57(2)….Orders of the board denying or awarding funds to a claimant constitute final orders that may be appealed in accordance with s. 120.68.”

Because there is no longer an opportunity for a hearing involving disputed issues of fact before an ALJ, it is extremely important to ensure that the record before the Fund is thorough and complete so the record on appeal is thorough and complete. Barring some procedural error that allows the Fund to reconsider its determination, there will not be an opportunity to supplement the record before the Fund once the Fund conducts the hearing and the CILB enters a final order.56

In conclusion, the Fund is a resource available to homeowners that in some instances may provide the only source of recovery. The Fund will pay a valid claim even if the contractor declares bankruptcy.57 In any arbitration or civil case involving a homeowner and a contractor, potential access to the Fund should be evaluated by both the homeowner and the contractor’s counsel at the outset of representation. If the facts support potential Fund access, the cause of action should include specific factual claims that will increase the likelihood of gaining access to the Fund. The Fund may not reimburse the homeowner for all losses, but any recovery is better than no recovery.


1 Free v. Constr. Indus. Recovery Fund, 729 So. 2d 980, 981 (Fla. 2d DCA 1999); Fla. Stat. §489.1401(2).

2 Fla. Stat. §489.1402(1)(i) defines a “residence” as a single-family home, an individual residential condominium or cooperative unit, or a residential building with no more than two residential units, in which the homeowner resides six months of each year.

3 Fla. Stat. §489.1401(2).

4 Fla. Stat. §20.165.

5 Fla. Stat. §489.141; see Chappell v. Constr. Indus. Recovery Fund, 835 So. 2d 339, 340 (Fla. 3d DCA 2003).

6 Fla. Stat. §§489.140 and 468.631(1) (A surcharge of 1.5 percent is assessed to all permit fees by local governments with Florida Building Code enforcement authority. Each unit of government responsible for collecting such permit fees retains 10 percent of the surcharge “collected to fund the participation of building departments in the national and state building code adoption processes and to provide education related to enforcement of the Florida Building Code.” The remainder of the surcharge is distributed equally to the Fund and to the Building Code Administrators and Inspectors Board.).

7 Fla. Stat. §489.1402(1)(c) defines a fund claimant as a homeowner. This disqualifies residential renters and commercial projects from the Fund.

8 Division I contractors are defined in Fla. Stat. §489.105(3)(a)-(c) and Division II contractors are defined in §489.105(3)(d)-(q).

9 Effective July 1, 2004, the definition of “contractor” for Fund purposes, set forth in Fla. Stat. §489.1402(1)(d), was amended to apply only to Division I contractors performing services set forth §489.105(3)(a)-(c). See Ch. 2004-84, 2004 Fla. Laws 2132. Effective July 1, 2016, the definition of contractor for Fund purposes set forth in Fla. Stat. §489.1402(1)(d) was amended to apply to Division I and Division II contractors performing services set forth §489.105(3). See Ch. 2016-129, 2016 Fla. Laws 535 (to be codified at various provisions of Fla. Stat. Ch. 489).

10 Fla. Stat. §489.141(1)(a).

11 Fla. Stat. §489.141(1)(b).

12 “‘Actual [d]amages’ as used in [F.S. §]489.143(2)…shall mean the general measure of damages suffered as a direct result of a licensee’s violation of [F.S. §]489.129(1)(g), (j), (k), or 713.35…for failing to perform a construction contract. Actual [d]amages are calculated as the difference between the contract price, together with the change orders, and the cost of construction completion by another builder, where the cost of completion is for the same scope of work and materials set out in the original contract. However, if the claimant has paid a deposit or down payment and no actual work is performed or materials are delivered, actual damages shall not exceed the exact dollar amount of the deposit or down payment.” Fla. Admin. Code R. 61 G4-21.002(6).

13 Fla. Stat. §489.141(1)(f). Stasinos v. State, Dept. of Bus. & Prof’l Regulation, 41 Fla. L. Weekly D317, D318 (Fla. 4th DCA 2016) (holding that a Fund claim filed within one year of the discharge of the contractor’s bankruptcy proceeding was timely).

14 Fla. Stat. §489.129(1)(g), (j), (k); Fla. Stat. §713.35.

15 Fla. Stat. §489.142(1).

16 Fla. Stat. §489.142(2)-(3).

17 Murthy v. N. Sinha Corp., 644 So. 2d 983 (Fla. 1994); Seabridge, Inc. v. Superior Kitchens, Inc., 672 So. 2d 848 (Fla. 4th DCA 1996); Evans v. Taylor, 711 So. 2d 1317 (Fla. 3d DCA 1998); Scherer v. Villas Del Verde Homeowners Ass’n, Inc., 55 So. 3d 602 (Fla. 2d DCA 2011); Millette v. DEK Techs., Inc., No. 08-60639-CV, 2009 WL 3242010 (S.D. Fla. Oct. 6, 2009); see Finkle v. Mayerchak, 578 So. 2d 396 (Fla. 3d DCA 1991).

18 Fla. Stat. §489.141(1)(d).

19 Chappell, 835 So. 2d at 340.

20 Larry E. Shimkus v. Dep’t of Bus. & Prof’l Regulation, Const. Indus. Licensing Bd., Case Nos. 03-3540, etc. (DOAH Feb. 17, 2004) adopted in part and modified in part by Final Order No. 2004-02092 (DBPR June 2, 2004); see Dep’t of Transp. v. J.W.C. Co., 396 So. 2d 778 (Fla. 1st DCA 1981).

21 See Simonelli v. Dep’t of Bus. & Prof’l Regulation, Const. Indus. Licensing Bd., 958 So. 2d 1125 (Fla. 2d DCA 2007); see also Dep’t of Bus. & Prof’l Regulation, Const. Indus. Licensing Bd. v. Ronald Lee Frazier, Case Nos. 98-5212, etc. (DOAH Dec. 21, 2001; DBPR Jan. 23, 2001 & Oct. 22, 2002).

22 Fla. Admin. Code R. 61G4-21.003.

23 Charles Powell and Norma R. Powell v. Dep’t of Bus. & Prof’l Regulation, Const. Indus. Licensing Bd., Case No. 04-1066 (DOAH July 30, 2004), adopted in part and modified in part by Final Order No. 2005-01180 (DBPR Mar. 10, 2005); James E. Cathey, d/b/a Cathey Constr. Co., Inc., v. Dep’t of Bus. & Prof’l Regulation, Const. Indus. Licensing Bd. & Timothy & Lee Ann Golden, Case No. 99-4888 (DOAH June 28, 2000), adopted in part and modified in part by Final Order No. 2001-00225 (DBPR Jan. 18, 2001).

24 Christopher P. Kiselius v. Dep’t of Bus. & Prof’l Regulation, Const. Indus. Licensing Bd., Case Nos. 99-1665, etc. (DOAH Aug. 31, 2000), adopted in part and modified in part by Final Order No. 2001-00867 (DBPR Mar. 6, 2001); Larry E. Shimkus, Case Nos. 03-3540, etc.; James E. Cathey, d/b/a Cathey Constr. Co., Inc., Case No. 99-4888.

25 Similar considerations should be taken by the practitioner when the goal is to access similar remedial funds based upon a final judgment, such as the Real Estate Recovery Fund, Fla. Stat. §485.482; Mortgage Guaranty Trust Fund, Fla. Stat. §494.00173; Securities Guaranty Fund, Fla. Stat. §517.131; and Auctioneer Recovery Fund, Fla. Stat. §468.393.

26 Karen W. Scragg v. Dep’t of Bus. & Prof’l Regulation, Const. Indus. Licensing Bd., Case No. 04-2076 (DOAH Nov. 18, 2004; DBPR May 4, 2005); James E. Cathey, d/b/a Cathey Constr. Co., Inc., Case No. 99-4888 (“If the Fund were to make payment based on a stipulated [f]inal [j]udgment that is not ‘expressly based’ on a [licensing violation that allows access to the Fund] and the [contractor’s] license were suspended, [the contractor] would face denial of a valuable property interest in his license to earn a living without ever admitting to the violation and without receiving a fair hearing to determine, by clear and convincing evidence whether he or she violated [the construction licensing law].”); see also Stephen A. Humphrey v. Robert P. Ryan, Jr., d/b/a Personalized Homes of Brevard, Inc., & Dep’t of Bus. & Prof’l Regulation, Const. Indus. Licensing Bd., Case No. 01-4668 (DOAH Apr. 29, 2002; DBPR Sept. 15, 2000) (A claimant is precluded access to the Fund where the stipulated final judgment between the parties is based upon a settlement that prohibits the claimant from pursuing any claims against the license of the qualifying agent with the CILB, but allows for the claimant to pursue recovery from the Fund.).

27 Fla. Stat. §§682.12 and 682.15.

28 Fla. Stat. §§489.141(1) and 489.141(2).

29 Fla. Admin. Code R. 61G4-21.002.

30 See Fla. Stat. §489.141.

31 Fla. Stat. §489.129(1) provides that the CILB may place a contractor on probation, impose a reprimand, revoke, suspend, or deny the issuance or renewal of a license, require financial restitution to a consumer for financial harm directly related to a violation of Fla. Stat. Ch. 489 or Ch. 455, impose an administrative fine up to $10,000 per violation, require additional continuing education, and assess costs associated with investigation and prosecution.

32 Fla. Stat. §455.225 sets forth the investigative and prosecutorial authority for the DBPR and the CILB.

33 Chappell, 835 So. 2d at 340 (Fla. 3d DCA 2003) (For purposes of the Fund, the contract date is determined as the date contractual undertakings are entered into whether done in the form of a free-standing contract or in the form of a change order.).

34 Fla. Stat. §489.143(1) (1993).

35 Fla. Stat. §489.143(3) (1993).

36 Fla. Stat. §489.143(4) (1993).

37 Fla. Stat. §489.143(4) (1996).

38 Fla. Stat. §489.143(4) (1998).

39 Id.

40 Fla. Stat. §489.1402(1)(d) (2004), revised the definition of “contractor” for Fund purposes to be only Division I contractors performing services described in §489.105(3)(a)-(c).

41 Fla. Stat. §489.143(2) (2004).

42 Id.

43 Fla. Stat. §489.143(5) (2004).

44 Fla. Stat. §489.143(2).

45 Fla. Stat. §489.143(3) (2016).

46 Fla. Stat. §489.143(6) (2016).

47 Fla. Stat. §489.142.

48 Fla. Admin. Code R. 61G4-21.003(1).

49 Fla. Stat. §489.141(3) provides that CILB may specify by rule the documentation required to file a claim.

50 Ryan v. Florida Dep’t of Bus. & Prof’l Regulation, 798 So. 2d 36 (Fla. 4th DCA 2001).

51 Fla. Stat. §489.142(2).

52 Rodriguez v. Dep’t of Bus. & Prof’l Regulation, Const. Indus. Licensing Bd., 985 So. 2d 682, 684 (Fla. 4th DCA 2008) (discussing the requirements for proper notice).

53 Fla. Stat. §489.143(9) provides: “Upon the payment of any amount from the recovery fund in settlement of a claim in satisfaction of a judgment, award, or restitution order against a licensee as described in s. 489.141, the license of such licensee shall be automatically suspended, without further administrative action, upon the date of payment from the fund. The license of such licensee may not be reinstated until he or she has repaid in full, plus interest, the amount paid from the fund. A discharge of bankruptcy does not relieve a person from the penalties and disabilities provided in this section.”

54 Fla. Stat. §120.57(2)(a)(2).

55 Fla. Stat. §120.569(1).

56 The power to move for reconsideration “must be exercised before an appeal from the original order has been filed or before such an order has become final by the lapse of time to file a timely notice of appeal.” Stasinos, 41 Fla. L. Weekly at D318 (citing Reich v. Dep’t of Health, 868 So. 2d 1275, 1276 (Fla. 1st DCA 2003)); see Smull v. Town of Jupiter, 854 So. 2d 780, 782 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003). “The Board also has inherent authority, in its discretion, to re-open a proceeding where there has been a potential due process violation.” Id.; see Filarski v. Reemployment Assistance Appeals Comm’n, 97 So. 3d 278, 281 (Fla. 4th DCA 2012).

57 Fla. Stat. §489.1402(1)(e) defines a court of competent jurisdiction as a Florida civil or criminal court or a bankruptcy court. Further, Fla. Stat. §489.143(9) provides that a discharge in bankruptcy does not relieve a contractor from the automatic suspension upon a Fund payout.


Diane S. Perera practices construction law and administrative law in Miami.  She is certified in construction law by The Florida Bar. Prior to entering private practice, she was an associate attorney with the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation, focusing on construction and design-related cases.

Erik G. Ross practices construction law in the firm of Diane S. Perera, P.A. During law school, he was the president of the University of Miami’s Real Property, Probate, and Trust Law Society and the law student liaison to the ABA Construction Law Forum. Additionally, Ross holds a Bachelor of Architecture and is a frequent guest critic at the University of Miami School of Architecture.

This column is submitted on behalf of the Administrative Law Section, Jowanna Nicole Oates, chair, and Stephen Emmanuel, editor.

[Revised: 12-27-2016]