Section 320.781, Florida Statutes 2001
320.781 Mobile Home and Recreational Vehicle Protection Trust Fund.--
(1) There is hereby established a Mobile Home and Recreational Vehicle Protection Trust Fund. The trust fund shall be administered and managed by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. The expenses incurred by the department in administering this section shall be paid only from appropriations made from the trust fund.
(2) Beginning October 1, 1990, the department shall charge and collect an additional fee of $1 for each new mobile home and new recreational vehicle title transaction for which it charges a fee. This additional fee shall be deposited into the trust fund. The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles shall charge a fee of $40 per annual dealer and manufacturer license and license renewal, which shall be deposited into the trust fund. The sums deposited in the trust fund shall be used exclusively for carrying out the purposes of this section. These sums may be invested and reinvested by the Treasurer under the same limitations as apply to investment of other state funds, with all interest from these investments deposited to the credit of the trust fund.
(3) The trust fund shall be used to satisfy any judgment by any person, as provided by this section, against a mobile home or recreational vehicle dealer or broker for damages, restitution, or expenses, including reasonable attorney's fees, resulting from a cause of action directly related to the conditions of any written contract made by him or her in connection with the sale, exchange, or improvement of any mobile home or recreational vehicle, or for any violation of chapter 319 or this chapter.
(4) The trust fund shall not be liable for any judgment, or part thereof, resulting from any tort claim except as expressly provided in subsection (3), nor for any punitive, exemplary, double, or treble damages. A person, the state, or any political subdivision thereof may recover against the mobile home or recreational vehicle dealer, broker, or surety, jointly and severally, for such damages, restitution, or expenses; provided, however, that in no event shall the trust fund or the surety be liable for an amount in excess of actual damages, restitution, or expenses.
(5) Subject to the limitations and requirements of this section, the trust fund shall be used by the department to compensate persons who have unsatisfied judgments, or in certain limited circumstances unsatisfied claims, against a mobile home or recreational vehicle dealer or broker in one of the following situations:
(a) The claimant has obtained a final judgment which is unsatisfied against the mobile home or recreational vehicle dealer or broker or its surety jointly and severally, or against the mobile home dealer or broker only, if the court found that the surety was not liable due to prior payment of valid claims against the bond in an amount equal to, or greater than, the face amount of the applicable bond.
(b) The claimant has obtained a judgment against the surety of the mobile home or recreational vehicle dealer or broker that is unsatisfied.
(c) The claimant has alleged a claim against the mobile home or recreational vehicle dealer or broker in a lawsuit which has been stayed or discharged as a result of the filing for reorganization or discharge in bankruptcy by the dealer or broker, and judgment against the surety is not possible because of the bankruptcy or liquidation of the surety, or because the surety has been found by a court of competent jurisdiction not to be liable due to prior payment of valid claims against the bond in an amount equal to, or greater than, the face amount of the applicable bond.
(6) In order to recover from the trust fund, the person must file an application and verified claim with the department.
(a) If the claimant has obtained a judgment which is unsatisfied against the mobile home or recreational vehicle dealer or broker or its surety as set forth in this section, the verified claim must specify the following:
1.a. That the judgment against the mobile home or recreational vehicle dealer or broker and its surety has been entered; or
b. That the judgment against the mobile home or recreational vehicle dealer or broker contains a specific finding that the surety has no liability, that execution has been returned unsatisfied, and that a judgment lien has been perfected;
2. The amount of actual damages broken down by category as awarded by the court or jury in the cause which resulted in the unsatisfied judgment, and the amount of attorney's fees set forth in the unsatisfied judgment;
3. The amount of payment or other consideration received, if any, from the mobile home or recreational vehicle dealer or broker or its surety;
4. The amount that may be realized, if any, from the sale of real or personal property or other assets of the judgment debtor liable to be sold or applied in satisfaction of the judgment and the balance remaining due on the judgment after application of the amount which has been realized and a certification that the claimant has made a good faith effort to collect the judgment; and
5. Such other information as the department requires.
(b) If the claimant has alleged a claim as set forth in paragraph (5)(c) and for the reasons set forth therein has not been able to secure a judgment, the verified claim must contain the following:
1. A true copy of the pleadings in the lawsuit which was stayed or discharged by the bankruptcy court and the order of the bankruptcy court staying those proceedings;
2. Allegations of the acts or omissions by the mobile home or recreational vehicle dealer or broker setting forth the specific acts or omissions complained of which resulted in actual damage to the person, along with the actual dollar amount necessary to reimburse or compensate the person for costs or expenses resulting from the acts or omissions of which the person complained;
3. True copies of all purchase agreements, notices, service or repair orders or papers or documents of any kind whatsoever which the person received in connection with the purchase, exchange, or lease-purchase of the mobile home or recreational vehicle from which the person's cause of action arises; and
4. Such other information as the department requires.
(c) The department may require such proof as it deems necessary to document the matters set forth in the claim.
(7) Within 90 days after receipt of the application and verified claim, the department shall issue its determination on the claim. Such determination shall not be subject to the provisions of chapter 120, but shall be reviewable only by writ of certiorari in the circuit court in the county in which the claimant resides in the manner and within the time provided by the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure. The claim must be paid within 45 days after the determination, or, if judicial review is sought, within 45 days after the review becomes final. A person may not be paid an amount from the fund in excess of $25,000 per mobile home or recreational vehicle. Prior to payment, the person must execute an assignment to the department of all the person's rights and title to, and interest in, the unsatisfied judgment and judgment lien or the claim against the dealer or broker and its surety.
(8) The department, in its discretion and where feasible, may try to recover from the mobile home or recreational vehicle dealer or broker, or the judgment debtor or its surety, all sums paid to persons from the trust fund. Any sums recovered shall be deposited to the credit of the trust fund. The department shall be awarded a reasonable attorney's fee for all actions taken to recover any sums paid to persons from the trust fund pursuant to this section.
(9) This section does not apply to any claim, and a person may not recover against the trust fund as the result of any claim, against a mobile home or recreational vehicle dealer or broker resulting from a cause of action directly related to the sale, lease-purchase, exchange, brokerage, or installation of a mobile home or recreational vehicle prior to October 1, 1990.
(10) Neither the department, nor the trust fund shall be liable to any person for recovery if the trust fund does not have the moneys necessary to pay amounts claimed. If the trust fund does not have sufficient assets to pay the claimant, it shall log the time and date of its determination for payment to a claimant. If moneys become available, the department shall pay the claimant whose unpaid claim is the earliest by time and date of determination.
(11) It is unlawful for any person or his or her agent to file any notice, statement, or other document required under this section which is false or contains any material misstatement of fact. Any person who violates this subsection is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
History.--s. 1, ch. 90-221; s. 376, ch. 95-148.