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Matlacha Civic Association annexation lawsuit against Cape dismissed

By Staff | Jan 16, 2018

A legal challenge to the city of Cape’s Coral annexation of property the city owns on Matlacha has been dismissed by a circuit court judge but may come back on appeal.

Circuit Judge Keith Kyle dismissed the lawsuit filed by the Matlacha Civic Association on Jan. 5. Civic hoped to reverse the city’s annexation of six lots on Matlacha Isles.

In his ruling, Kyle said, “it is ordered and adjudged that the petition for ‘Writ of Certiorari’ is dismissed for lack of standing.”

According to the Wex legal dictionary “standing” is defined as the “capacity of a party to bring suit in court. … These typically revolve around the requirement that plaintiffs have sustained or will sustain direct injury or harm and that this harm is redressable.”

Kyle further stated that a party must suffer “material injury” in order to have “standing” to challenge the annexation and that the “material injury must arise from the governing body’s failure to comply with the procedures and requirements of annexation.”

Kyle determined that none of the parties suffered “material injury.”

Mike Hannon, a Matlacha resident and an attorney though not a member of the Florida Bar, has been assisting Matlacha Civic Association attorneys Matthew Uhle and Stephen Brannock in the lawsuit.

“Cape Coral’s purchase of land outside its borders for annexation is unprecedented in Florida law,” Hannon said. “In addition, Cape Coral’s argument on standing – which Judge Kyle accepted – has also never been applied to a citizen challenge to annexation.”

Hannon said the Matlacha Civic Association will file with the Second District Court of Appeals.

“The appellate court may be more comfortable interpreting the language ‘material injury’ differently in connection with citizen plaintiffs,” he said via email. “In addition, the appellate court may be more concerned with Cape Coral being on both sides of the annexation.”

Dismissing the case on standing is unfortunate, Hannon said, adding Kyle’s ruling states good arguments were made concerning the legality of the annexation.