First DCA Scrutiny

By: Whitney Ray Email
By: Whitney Ray Email

Tallahassee, FL - Cracked walls and crumbling driveways are all too common in this small panhandle town. This neighborhood looks like its falling into a sinkhole, but residents say its no act of God.

Their houses were built on a landfill that once belonged to the St. Joe Company. More than a decade after many residents, like Cynthia Alexander, bought homes on the property, their houses began to sink.

“We thought we were buying our lifetime dream and we look up and everything is just falling down around us,” said Cynthia.

This video is from 2008, when we first meet the Millview families. Four years earlier a trial court ruled to allow the homeowners to pursue a class action lawsuit against St. Joe, then in 2005, the First District Court of Appeal overturned the decision.

At the same time the court heard the case, negotiations were underway to build this 48 million dollar building for the 1st DCA…. On land given to the state by St. Joe. The timing of the deal is raising question about the Millview case.

None of the attorneys involved will talk about the land deal, because if they say something against the court they could receive a judicial reprimand.

The judge most involved in the building of the courthouse Paul Hawkes was also on the panel that ruled in favor of St. Joe. We requested an interview with Judge Hawkes. We are still waiting for his response.

Earlier this year St. Joe Company settled with the homeowners. The details of the settlement have been kept secret. As for the 2005 decision by the 1st DCA, St. Joe says the decision was based on sound legal grounds.

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