Juega v. Davidson, — So.2d —-, 2007 WL 465523 (Fla. 3d DCA Feb 14, 2007)


Who has standing to sue and when is a recurring them in trusts and estates litigation.  In probate proceedings, the issue is framed in terms of who is an "interested person,"  In non-probate trust litigation, the issue is governed by Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.210(a).

In this case an estate administrator appointed as part of estate proceedings in Spain filed a 1994 lawsuit in Miami, Floria.  The case apparently dragged on for years.  In 2003, the Spanish estate was closed on the estate administrator was discharged.  Having acquired a taste for U.S. litigation, in 2004 the foreign administrator proceeded with his case in Miami after having been discharged in Spain.

The trial court dismissed the discharged-foreign administrator from the lawsuit on lack-of-standing grounds.  The 3d DCA agreed, providing the following helpful guidance:

Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.210(a) states, in pertinent part:

Every action may be prosecuted in the name of the real party in interest, but a personal representative, administrator, guardian, trustee of an express trust, a party with whom or in whose name a contract has been made for the benefit of another, or a party expressly authorized by statute may sue in that person’s own name without joining the party for whose benefit the action is brought.

By its express wording, Rule 1.210(a) enumerates six categories of persons who may bring an action for the benefit of another without joining the real party in interest. However, the real party in interest may prosecute in his own name as well even if one of those six categories of persons is available. See Estate of Morales v. Iasis Healthcare Corp., 901 So.2d 965, 966 (Fla. 2d DCA 2005) (“[i]n cases involving claims made by … an estate, there are two parties: the estate and the personal representative”). Here, [foreign administrator] ceased to be the estate administrator and the Estate ceased to be the real party in interest in 2003.

Because [foreign administrator] ceased to act in his representative capacity in 2003, he did not have standing in 2004 to raise claims on behalf of the estate.