State of Florida
Office of Attorney General Ashley Moody

Appellate Alert

Date issued: 02/09/2021
Editor: Betsy Stupski

Clicking the icon following the number of each case cited below will link you directly to the cited opinion. AG Advisory Opinions are accessible from the list of links.

Appellate Alert 2021-2
February 9, 2021

Appellate Alert 2021-2
February 9, 2021


Florida Supreme Court

In re: Amendments to Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.510 SC20-1490
12/31/2020

Effective May 1, 2021, Florida courts will adopt the federal standard for granting summary judgment which differs from the current Florida standard in three fundamental ways.

The Florida Supreme Court, on its own motion, amended Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.510 pertaining to Summary Judgment. Effective May 1, 2021, the Court adopted the standard used by federal courts. In its analysis, the Court explained that although the language of the Florida rule for granting summary judgment was substantially similar to the federal rule, Florida courts differed from the federal courts in their application of the summary judgment rule in three identifiable ways.

First, prior to this amendment, Florida courts have declined to recognize the similarity between a motion for summary judgment and a motion for directed verdict. The United States Supreme Court, however, stated that the standard required for the two motions mirror one another.

Second, another difference has been the Florida courts requirement that the moving party disprove the non-movant’s case by negating his claims, while the federal court standard allowed a moving party to be successful by showing that there was a lack of evidence to support the essential elements of the non-moving party’s claim.

Third, the Florida courts had adopted a very broad interpretation of what might constitute a genuine issue of fact. Commentaries on the Florida Rule 1.510 rule suggested under the Florida summary judgment standard, only the slightest doubt need be raised to defeat a motion. In contrast, the federal standard contemplates a more narrow understanding of what might be a genuine issue of fact.

In its final analysis, The Court stated, “We are persuaded that the federal summary judgment standard better comports with the text and purpose of rule 1.510 and that adopting that standard is in the best interest of our state. As we said at the outset, our rules of civil procedure are meant to ‘secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action’… Yet Florida courts’ interpretation of our summary judgment rule has unnecessarily failed to contribute to that objective. Overall and especially as to each of the key areas above, the federal summary judgment standard is more rational, more fair, and more consistent with the structure and purpose of our rules of civil procedure.”



In re: Amendments to the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration SC20-165
1/21/2021

The Florida Supreme Court amended the rule regarding appearances by attorneys as well as the rule for disqualifying a judge.


The Florida Supreme Court adopted amendments (effective March 1, 2021) to the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration. Notably the title of the Rules will be changed to the Florida Rules of General Practice and Judicial Administration. The title change is to emphasize to Bar members that the rules are relevant to practitioners as well as judges (See Rule 2.110). Among other amendments are changes to the rule on disqualification and the appearance of substitute or additional counsel as well as the disqualification of judges (See Rule 2.330). The amendments also clarify the ways in which attorneys may appear for a party. (See Rule 2.505) The rules go on to clarify how to terminate the appearance of an attorney. (See Rule 2.505)





In re: Amendments to Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.420 SC20-1765
1/21/2021

The Clerk of Court will not have an independent responsibility to redact certain confidential records in specified civil cases.

Any attorney, party or non-party who does not comply with the redaction requirements in Rule 2.420 is subject to sanctions.



Rule 2.420 of the Rules of Judicial Administration addresses public access to court records and procedures for determining confidentiality of court records. The Florida Supreme Court has recently approved changes to take effect July 1, 2021.The amendments change the Clerk of Court’s responsibilities in redacting confidential information from court filings in specified civil cases.

After July 1, the “clerk of court [will] not have an independent responsibility to identify and designate information as confidential. Instead that is the sole responsibility of the filer.”
In further explaining the new rule, The Supreme Court stated, “in a limited group of civil cases, the clerk of court will designate information or documents as confidential only when, the filer of the confidential information or document files a Notice of Confidential Information within Court Filing pursuant to Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.420(d)(3); the filing is deemed confidential by court order; or the case itself is confidential by law. The only civil cases to which this new rule applies are civil cases types originating in the circuit, county, or small claims courts… except those case types listed as ‘Viewable on Request’ in the Standards for Access to Electronic Court Records and Access Security Matrix as adopt by Florida Supreme Court in Administrative Order AOSC14-19…” The Court went on to emphasize that any party, non-party, or attorney who does not comply with the requirements in rule 2.420 may be subject to sanctions under subdivision (i)(Sanctions) of rule 2.420.”



First District Court of Appeal


Hunt v. State of Florida 1D19-2143
1/28/2021

The banning of bump-fire stocks did not constitute a taking.

The only constitutionally cognizable taking-claim regarding personal property recognized by the Supreme Court involves an actual appropriation of that property by the government for its own use.

The Plaintiff, a gun owner sued the State of Florida, the Attorney General, and the Department of Law Enforcement after the enactment of section 790.222, Florida Statutes, which bans bump-fire stocks. They argued that the statute was unconstitutional because it amounted to an illegal taking of property. The trial court ruled in favor of the Defendants and the Plaintiff appealed.

The First District affirmed the trial court, stating, “However, the only constitutionally cognizable taking-claim regarding personal property recognized by the Supreme Court involves an actual appropriation of that property by the government for its own use.” The Court went on to say that the Florida Legislature’s statement of purpose supports the conclusion that section 790.222 is a valid exercise of police power and not a taking of private personal property.


Third District Court of Appeal

Ace Funding Source v. A1 Transportation Network, Inc 3D20-1292
1/27/2021

Defendant’s motion to vacate clerk’s default should have been granted.

For the purposes of construing the right to enter a default under rule 1.500(a), the term ‘paper” is construed liberally and includes any written communication that informs the plaintiff of defendant’s intent to contest the claim.

Defendant Ace was served with a complaint but failed to file an answer. Eventually the Clerk of Court enter a default because the Defendant had failed or serve any paper on the Plaintiff pursuant to Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.500. The Defendant filed a motion to Vacate the Clerk’s order. They explained that they had been in touch with the Plaintiff and had relayed its intent to defend. The trial court denied the Defendant’s motion to vacate the Clerk’s order.

The Third District reversed the trial court stating, “ For the purposes of construing the right to enter a default under rule 1.500(a), the term ‘paper” is construed liberally and includes any written communication that informs the plaintiff of defendant’s intent to contest the claim.” The Court went on to say, “Correspondence between the parties’ attorneys prior to entry of clerk’s default falls squarely within the definition of ‘paper as defined by this Court.”
Fourth District Court of Appeal

Machovec v. Palm Beach County 4D20-1765
1/27/2021

The trial court properly applied a rational review standard to Plaintiff’s challenge of mask ordinance.

Palm Beach County issued Emergency Order 20-12 which required citizens to wear a mask. Plaintiff citizens sued for a temporary injunction on the enforcement of the ordinance, arguing that the order was an unconstitutional infringement on their right to privacy. Primarily they argued that they had a constitutional right to refuse medical treatment. The trial court found that there was a rational basis for the ordinance and dismissed the claim. Plaintiffs appealed.

The Fourth District affirmed the trial. The Court reasoned, “Appellants’ sole argument on appeal fails because they did not establish that the County’s emergency order mandating the wearing of the face coverings intrudes on their constitutional right to refuse medical treatment. The mask mandate is directed to protecting the health, vis-a-vis the coronavirus, of people in the proximity of the mask wearer, with facial coverings providing a mitigating measure to help prevent the respiratory droplets coming from the mask wearer’s mouth or nose from traveling in the air and onto other people. With no viable constitutional claim having been raised by Appellants’ arguments, we conclude that the trial court properly subjected Appellants’ claim to rational basis review in determining EO-12’s facial covering mandate has a clear rational basis based on the protection of public health. Consequently, the trial court’s order denying Appellants’ Verified Emergency Motion for Temporary Injunction is affirmed.”
 
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