Can You Sue for Damages Pursuant to a Declaratory Decree ?
In Thomas v. Cilbe, Inc., 104 So. 2d 397, 402 (Fla.Dist.Ct.App., 2d Dist. 1958), the Florida court of appeals held that a money judgment may be obtained for damages sought as incidental or supplemental relief pursuant to a declaratory decree.
The appellant in Thomas initially sought a declaration as to the validity and construction of certain leases and subleases involving property he owned.
After the chancellor entered a declaratory decree, appellant filed petitions for supplemental relief based on the declaratory decree, seeking relief in the form of rents, repairs, taxes, costs, and attorneys' fees. Id. at 398.
The Thomas court noted that Florida's statute, derived from the Uniform Declaratory Judgments Act, authorizes "in a proper case an additional and distinct adjudication based upon and to supplement the declaratory decree." Id. at 400.
The Thomas court then quoted extensively from 2 Walter H. Anderson, Actions for Declaratory Judgments 451 (2d ed. 1951). Thomas, 104 So. 2d at 401.
The Court set forth the relevant text from Anderson:
It is now firmly established beyond peradventure of doubt that the supplemental relief contemplated by the statutes is not limited to further declaratory relief, and such further relief may include an assessment of damages or other coercive relief which may be obtained by a petition in the same action and in the same court in which the declaratory relief was granted.
The supplemental relief may be any relief necessary to make effective the declaratory judgment, even though it consists in the granting of a money judgment in the case, after the rendition of the declaratory decree.
It would seem that the sounder rule is that the supplemental or additional relief may be granted in the same action, or cause, and that the court, upon a sufficient pleading having been filed therefor, so long as the court avoids rendering a judgment deciding merely a moot, fictitious, or colorable question, it may grant any relief, whether declaratory or executory, to carry into effect its declaratory order, judgment or decree. . . .
. . . It would be unreasonable to hold that a court had jurisdiction to determine the rights of the parties, but the successful party had no remedy to enforce such rights after they had been determined. . . Anderson at 1056-1059.
As the Thomas court concluded, "We can see that in a declaratory proceeding . . . a multiplicity of suits can be avoided, while an adequate, expedient, and inexpensive remedy can be afforded for litigants in a single action." Thomas, 104 So. 2d at 403.
See also Dry Canyon Farms, Inc., 772 P.2d at 1345 (quoting Anderson with approval).