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Florida Supreme Court Amends Summary Judgment Rule

Late last year, the Florida Supreme Court issued an opinion amending Rule 1.510, Florida’s summary judgment standard. Before making substantive changes, the Court allowed the public to submit comments. After receiving and reviewing the comments, the court issued an opinion amending Rule 1.510, effectively adopting the text of the federal standard. This change will undoubtedly have a significant impact on Florida’s injury lawsuits, as many cases are resolved during this stage of litigation.

The Florida Supreme Court noted that the public comments persuaded them that adopting the federal summary judgment rule would provide the courts with the most seamless and effective transition. The Court emphasized three leading changes in the amended rule.

First, there is an inherent similarity between the directed verdict and summary judgment standard. Under both standards, inquiries regarding whether a genuine issue of material fact exists hinges on the substantive evidence that the parties present. When the moving party does not hold the burden of persuasion, that party can obtain summary judgment without disproving the nonmoving party’s case. Instead, the movant can meet their burden by either producing evidence that a fact is not as it seems or by pointing out the other party’s failure to provide evidence to substantiate an issue.

Before the change, trial courts could merely make a conclusory statement regarding whether there is a genuine issue of material fact. A critical change to the rule requires trial courts to state their reason for granting or denying summary judgment. This is an especially crucial change because it allows appellate courts to understand the case’s procedural history fully.

The revamped rule also includes modifications to the time limits and deadlines the parties have to file a summary judgment motion and response. Under the change, the party moving for summary judgment must serve the motion at least 40 days before the hearing, and the other party must respond 20 days before the hearing. Further, any party that submits affidavits in bad faith or for unlawful delay may face sanctions.

The change took effect on May 1, 2021; however, the Court explained that the change applies to certain pending cases. It applies in cases where a court has denied summary judgment under the pre-amendment rule. In these situations, courts must allow the parties with a reasonable opportunity to file a renewed motion. Additionally, it applies in cases where summary judgment has been briefed by not heard. Lastly, it will affect cases where there is a pending motion for rehearing that was decided under the old rule.

Have You Suffered Injuries in a Florida Accident?

If you or someone you love has suffered severe injuries in a Florida accident, the attorneys at Friedman Rodman Frank & Estrada, P.A. can help you pursue the compensation you deserve. The attorneys at our practice keep apprised of all relevant legal changes that may impact the rights and remedies of our clients. We handle all types of personal injury cases, including those involving Florida motor vehicle accidents, premises liability, medical malpractice, product liability and more. Our attorneys possess an in-depth understanding of complex state and federal laws that affect these cases. Contact our office at 877-448-8585 to discuss how we can help you recover from your losses.

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