Miami-Dade Freeway Authority wins legal battle with state
The Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX) has just won two court decisions in its dispute over the operations and control of five toll highways in the county against the state-created Greater Miami Expressway Agency (GMX).
Florida’s Eleventh Circuit Judge William Thomas has dismissed a motion to dismiss MDX’s claim against GMX that it owns, controls and owns the $ 4 billion in assets it operates. He also recognized Miami-Dade County as a necessary party in the litigation.
But the judge dismissed the authority’s request for a preliminary injunction that would maintain the status quo while the courts render a final decision in the case. A 20-minute hearing is still scheduled for January 18.
Jason Gonzalez of Shutts & Bowen LLP, representing GMX and members of its board of directors, has argued in previous hearings and documents that MDX should either bring the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to the case or abandon it, because FDOT “is an indispensable part”.
Nonetheless, Judge Thomas concluded that FDOT is not an indispensable party and no longer has any interest in the rights that it transferred to MDX. Further, he wrote that the agreement in which the ministry transferred the rights to MDX to maintain and operate the highways in the county has no right of reversion which would give a basis for recognizing FDOT as a party. .
Mr. Gonzalez also argued that MDX did not have standing under the public official standing doctrine. But Judge Thomas found that MDX’s claims against GMX do not involve a constitutional challenge to the validity of state law; instead, the authority is looking for a court ruling that would state that MDX owns the highways.
GMX’s defense argues that MDX does not have the legal capacity to bring legal action because it was dissolved on July 3, 2019. But Judge Thomas noted that an amendment to the domestic rule Prohibits the legislature from passing bills that apply only to Miami-Dade County, and that the county can declare a bill unconstitutional and invalid, as it did in a May 2021 ordinance.
“The Miami-Dade County order has not been challenged in any court,” Judge Thomas wrote.
The judge also recognized Miami-Dade as a necessary party in the case, as he referred to Florida statutes, scoring MDX’s second victory.
MDX sought a temporary injunction to preserve the status quo and prevent GMX from taking further action to “derogate” from MDX’s rights, but Judge Thomas dismissed the motion, ruling that MDX did not meet two requirements.
MDX “cannot demonstrate irreparable harm in the absence of an injunction,” he wrote, noting that MDX’s harm is financial and can be remedied by a monetary judgment. “It is the conclusion of this court that MDX is essentially seeking an injunction to stop the redirection of toll revenues to GMX,” the judge wrote.
The judge said that MDX had an adequate remedy because, if it succeeded in establishing its right to operate and control the highways, it would be entitled to pecuniary damages and would therefore have “an adequate remedy in law. “.
But Judge Thomas found that MDX met two other requirements. “It is the opinion of this tribunal that MDX has a substantial likelihood of success on the merits in the pending action,” Judge Thomas wrote. He also wrote that it is in the public interest that highways are operated and maintained in an undisturbed and safe manner.