FLORIDA'S TROUBLED INLAND PROTECTION TRUST FUND: COMMON LAW ACTIONS AS ALTERNATIVE REMEDIES FOR AN INNOCENT BUYER OF CONTAMINATED COMMERCIAL LAND

Robert A. Bass

This Article identifies and examines common law substantive and remedial obstacles encountered by a buyer of contaminated commercial property and discusses an alternative theory of relief untested in Florida courts--restitution. First, the author surveys traditional common law torts and criticizes current Florida law that generally precludes a buyer of contaminated property from seeking relief in tort from the seller. The Article then provides a general introduction to the law of restitution and examines unjust enrichment and its potential to provide relief to a buyer. The article concludes that, in light of the Florida Inland Protection Trust Fund's uncertain future, the Legislature should provide a statutory cause of action for restitution of cleanup costs. In the absence of such legislation, however, aggrieved buyers should press the Florida courts to revisit and reassess the rationale of their prior decisions barring relief in tort to buyers of polluted commercial property. Finally, in the event stare decisis prevails, aggrieved parties should consider restitution as an alternative source of relief.

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