County Small Claims Court: APPELLATE PROCEDURE – record - evidence in the record did not prove that the damages exceeded the deposit retained by appellant-landlord – Appellant alleged trial court judge was biased since he stated appellee reminded him of his granddaughter - Without a transcript of the hearing in this case, and no error of law appearing on the face of the final judgment, appellant could not overcome presumption of correctness of trial court’s decision to demonstrate reversible error. McNeill v. LaBelle, No. 02-3923 CI-88A (Fla. 6th Cir App. Ct. Jan. 16, 2003).











                                                                                                                Appeal No. 02-03923 CI-88A

                                                                                                                Small Claims 02-1236-SC-45





Opinion filed ________________________

Appeals from Final Judgment

County Court, Small Claims Division, Pinellas County

The Honorable Walt Fullerton


Adrienne McNeill

Appellant, pro se


Trisha Labelle

Appellee, pro se




                THIS CAUSE came before the Court on an appeal from the County Court for Pinellas County, Small Claims Division, filed by Adrienne McNeill (Plaintiff/Appellant), from a Final Judgment for Defendant entered April 10, 2002, in favor of Trisha Labelle (Defendant/Appellee). Upon review of the record and the briefs and being otherwise fully advised in the premises, the Final Judgment for Defendant entered by the lower court is affirmed.

                This matter arose when Plaintiff/Appellant filed a Statement of Claim in Small Claims Court on February 12, 2002, alleging damages to the premises and unpaid rent, plus court costs, under a written lease between Plaintiff/Appellant, the landlord, and Defendant/Appellee, the tenant. On April 10, 2002 a Final Judgment was entered in favor of the Defendant/Appellee, stating that although Plaintiff/Appellant had proved damages in the amount of $200 for cleaning, replacement of lock and oven repair, she had on deposit a $550 security deposit and the last month’s rent of $550. Because the Plaintiff/Appellant failed to prove damages in excess of the $1,100 deposit, the judgment was for the Defendant/Appellee. The Judgment further found that Defendant/Appellee was not liable for rent for the two months the apartment sat vacant, awaiting repair of the front door, since the Defendant/Appellee had not caused and was not liable for the damage to the door and since it was unreasonable to take two months to repair it.

                Appellant timely appealed the Final Judgment and has argued in her initial brief that since she had sufficient evidence to support each of the items of damage, the judge’s conclusions were erroneous and an abuse of judicial discretion. She also alleged that the judge showed bias by remarking that the Defendant/Appellee reminded him of his granddaughter. Appellee alleges that the remark was never made.

                The record on appeal includes a copy of the lease, the tenant’s notice that she was vacating the premises and other communications between landlord and tenant, a receipt for track lighting and lock replacements totaling $112.23 and photos showing the condition of the apartment.

                On appeal, a trial court’s decision has a presumption of correctness and the burden is on the appellant to overcome this presumption and demonstrate reversible error. See Sorrels v. Rebecca’s Ice Cream, Inc., 696 So.2d 1313, 1314 (Fla. 2d DCA 1997).  To show error, the appellant must provide the appellate court with an adequate record of the trial proceedings so that the court can properly consider all relevant factual issues and determine if the trial court’s judgment was supported by the evidence and whether the issues were properly preserved for appeal. See Applegate v Barnett Bank of Tallahassee, 377 So.2d 1150 (Fla. 1979); Spevak v Willis, 793 So.2d 975 (Fla. 2d DCA 2001). See also E.I. DuPont DeNemours and Co. v. Native Hammock Nursery, 698 So.2d 267, 270 (Fla. 3d DCA 1997)(stating that appellate review is confined to the record on appeal).

                In this case, the evidence in the record does not prove that the damages exceeded the deposit retained by Plaintiff/Appellant. Moreover, the Plaintiff/Appellant asks this Court to determine issues that cannot be resolved without a record of the trial proceedings. She, however, has not provided this Court with a trial transcript or a proper substitute and has presented evidence in the appendix to her brief that is not in the record. Without a transcript of the hearing in this case, this Court may reverse only if an error of law appears on the face of the final judgment.  See Whelan v. Whelan, 736 So.2d 732, 733 (Fla. 4th DCA 1999); see also Pearce v. Pearce, 773 So.2d 1286 (Fla. 5th DCA 2000)(holding that absent a transcript or a stipulation of facts, the record lacks a basis to reverse the trial court’s decision).  This Court finds that no error of law appears on the face of the Judgment and the Appellant has not otherwise shown grounds for reversal. Therefore, it is,

                DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers, at Clearwater, Pinellas County, Florida this ______ day of January, 2003.





                                                                                                                JOHN A. SCHAEFER

                                                                                CIRCUIT JUDGE, APPELLATE DIVISION




Conformed copies furnished to:

Adrienne McNeill, 742 - 22nd Ave N, St. Petersburg, FL 33704

Trisha Labelle, c/o EPIX/AAA Mtg Corp, 7901 - 4th St N, St Pete, FL 33702