Juega ex rel. Estate of Davidson v. Davidson, — So.2d —-, 2009 WL 321564 (Fla. 3d DCA Feb 11, 2009)

In law, standing or locus standi is the term for the ability of a party to demonstrate to the court sufficient connection to and harm from the law or action challenged to support that party’s participation in the case.

The basic rule in Florida is that a representative party need not have standing if (1) that party has authority to act on behalf of the real party in interest and if (2) the real party in interest has standing. Florida rule of civil procedure 1.210(a) lists six types of representative parties who can bring an action in their own name without suing in the name of the real party in interest. One of those categories is the personal representative of a decedent’s estate.

The first time the 3d DCA ruled in this case it focused on the personal-representative category [click here], but overlooked Florida’s common-law rule with respect to standing: even if the plaintiff does not fall within one of the six exempt categories listed in rule 1.210(a), the plaintiff may still have standing to sue if he can establish he has some legal right to proceed on behalf of the real party in interest. It’s this common-law rule that’s at the heart of the linked-to opinion, in which the 3d DCA reversed itself on the issue of standing based on the following law:

Florida’s real party in interest rule “is permissive only….” Kumar Corp. v. Nopal Lines, Ltd., 462 So.2d 1178, 1184 (Fla. 3d DCA 1985). The rule states:

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.

Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.210(a) (emphasis added).

“[A] nominal party, such as an agent, may bring suit in its own name for the benefit of the real party in interest.” Kumar, 462 So.2d at 1185 (emphasis added). “[A] principal may subsequently ratify its agent’s act, even if originally unauthorized, and such ratification relates back and supplies the original authority.” Id.

“Thus, where a plaintiff is either the real party in interest or is maintaining the action on behalf of the real party in interest, its action cannot be terminated on the ground that it lacks standing.” Id. at 1183; see Mortgage Elec. Registration Sys., Inc. v. Revoredo, 955 So.2d 33, 34 (Fla. 3d DCA 2007) (collection and litigation agent has standing to bring mortgage foreclosure action); Eastern Inv., LLC v. Cyberfile, Inc., 947 So.2d 630, 632 (Fla. 3d DCA 2007) (action may be maintained by assignee; “Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.210(a) permits an action to be prosecuted in the name of someone other than, but acting for the real party in interest.”)

The affidavit filed by the son in this case is indistinguishable from the affidavit filed by the principal in Kumar. Id. at 1181. The facts stated in the Kumar affidavit, as here, establish that the agent, Juega, has standing.