motion for rehearing

Abandonment of Post-Trial Motions through Notice of Appeal? Not Anymore…

Posted by David Adelstein on September 23, 2017
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In an earlier posting, I discussed the difference between a motion for rehearing and motion for reconsideration.  

From that posting, you know that a motion for rehearing is a post-trial motion and, in particular, a motion that applies post-judgment. A properly filed motion for rehearing will toll the time to file an appeal. 

There are times where a party after a judgment is entered will file a motion for rehearing. Then, before that motion is ruled on, will file a notice of appeal. Why? The party is not appealing the order on the motion for rehearing because such an order has not been issued. Thus, the party is filing a notice of appeal of the judgment – yes, the same judgment that prompted the motion for rehearing.

Previously, the law stated that the party abandoned its post-trial motion for rehearing. “[B]y filing a notice of appeal prior to obtaining a ruling on the motion for rehearing, Appellant abandoned its motion.” Dep’t of Revenue v. Vanamburg, 174 So.3d 640, 642 (Fla. 1st DCA 2015) (“Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.020(i)(3) provided that if a motion for hearing or a motion to alter or amend, among other post-judgment motions, is filed ‘and a notice of appeal is filed before the filing of a signed, written order disposing of all such motions, all motions filed by the appealing party that are pending at the time shall be deemed abandoned, and the final order shall be deemed rendered by the filing of the notice of appeal.’”). See also Kee v. Bailey, 634 So.2d 654 (Fla. 3d DCA 1994) (“The Florida Supreme Court has clearly stated that a party abandons previously filed post-judgment motions when he files a notice of appeal of that judgment.”).

In 2015, Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.020(i)(3) was amended to eliminate the abandonment of such post-judgment motions.  Now, the  Rule states that if the Notice of Appeal is filed before the trial court issues an order on the post-judgment motions, the appeal is held in abeyance:

If such a motion or motions have been filed and a notice of appeal is filed before the filing of a signed, written order disposing of all such motions, the appeal shall be held in abeyance until the filing of a signed, written order disposing of the last such motion.

And, what if the party filed a motion for rehearing, but then withdrew the motion for rehearing and filed a notice of appeal? In this scenario, “the rendition of the final judgment in this circumstance occurs at the time the notice of appeal is filed, not at the earlier time when the final judgment is entered.” Rice v. 1989 Ford Bronco, 609 So.2d 639, 640 (Fla. 2d DCA 1992).   In other words, when a party abandons its timely filed post-trial motion, the abandonment occurs when the notice of appeal is filed. And, thus, the time to file the notice of appeal is not initiated when the final judgment is entered, but when the post-trial motion is abandoned such as through the filing of the notice of appeal. See Rice, supra, (denying motion to dismiss appeal as untimely due to post-trial motion being abandoned by party filing notice of appeal).

 

Please contact David Adelstein at dadelstein@gmail.com or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.

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Motion for Rehearing or Reconsideration: What is the Difference?

Posted by David Adelstein on September 03, 2017
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Motions titled rehearing and reconsideration are routinely used interchangeably, as if there is no difference between the name “rehearing” and the name “reconsideration. There is a difference though. A motion for a rehearing is distinct from a motion for reconsideration and this distinction is key. Not understanding the difference between a motion for rehearing and motion for reconsideration can result in an untimely appeal.

Motions for rehearing apply to final judgments. They are filed pursuant to Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.530 because they “only apply to final judgments and ‘those orders that partake of the character of a final judgment, i.e., orders that complete the judicial labor on a portion of the cause.’” Seigler v. Bell, 148 So.3d 473, 478 (Fla. 5th DCA 2014) quoting Francisco v. Victoria Marine Shipping, Inc., 486 So.2d 1386, 1290, n.6 (Fla. 3d DCA 1986).

Motions for reconsideration, on the other hand, apply to non-final, interlocutory orders prior to final judgment. Helmich v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 136 So.3d 763, 765 (Fla. 1st DCA 2014). These motions are based on the trial court’s “‘inherent authority to reconsider and, if deemed appropriate, alter or retract any of its nonfinal rulings prior to entry of the final judgment or order terminating an action.’” Seigler, 148 So.3d at 478 quoting Silverstrone v. Edell, 721 So.2d 1173, 1175 (Fla. 1998).

Although a motion for rehearing and motion for reconsideration are oftentimes mistitled, a court will treat a mistitled motion for reconsideration as a motion for rehearing and vice-versa. Seigler, 148 So.3d at 479. Mistitling or not understanding the distinction between the two motions can be problematic since “[a] motion for reconsideration does not toll the time to file an appeal from a non-final order.Agere Systems, Inc. v. All American Crating, Inc., 931 So.2d 244 (Fla. 5th DCA 2006). Conversely, a properly filed motion for rehearing will toll the time to file an appeal. Remington v. Remington, 705 So.2d 920, 922 (Fla. 4th DCA 1997); But see E-Z Marine Supply, Inc. v. Wachovia Commercial Mortgage, Inc., 875 So.2d 279 (Fla. 4th DCA 2004 (improperly filed motion for rehearing will not toll time to file appeal).

Please contact David Adelstein at dadelstein@gmail.com or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.

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Timely Filing Motion for Attorney’s Fees and Costs

Posted by David Adelstein on February 11, 2017
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Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.525 provides:

Any party seeking a judgment taxing costs, attorneys’ fees, or both shall serve a motion no later than 30 days after filing of the judgment, including a judgment of dismissal, or the service of a notice of voluntary dismissal, which judgment or notice concludes the action as to that party.

This is a specific statutory time period and a motion for rehearing does NOT toll this 30 day period. Jackson v. Anthony, 39 So.3d 1285, 1286 (Fla. 1st DCA 2010). This means that a motion for a final judgment taxing attorney’s fees and costs must be made within 30 days after the filing of a judgment or voluntary dismissal that concludes the action as to that party. (A court in certain circumstances may grant an extension of time to this 30 day period if the motion for extension is filed within 30 days).   Not timely filing a motion for attorney’s fees and costs can result in…(you guessed it)…a loss of a party’s right to recover attorney’s fees and costs.

In Hovercraft of South Florida, LLC v. Reynolds, 42 Fla. L Weekly D367a (Fla. 5th DCA 2017), the plaintiffs prevailed and received a final judgment. The defendant moved for a new trial and/or rehearing which was denied.   Within 30 days of the denial of the defendant’s motion for rehearing, but well outside the 30 days from when the final judgment was entered, the plaintiffs moved for attorney’s fees and costs. However, the motion for attorney’s fees was not timely filed within 30 days of the filing of the final judgment meaning…(you guessed it again)…the plaintiff’s lost the right to recover their attorney’s fees and costs!!!  Do not let this happen to you.  

Notably, an exception to this 30 day requirement is if the final judgment itself determines entitlement to attorney’s fees reserving only the right to determine the quantum of the reasonable attorney’s fees.   Hovercraft of South Florida, supra (“In order to avoid the thirty-day requirement, the judgment itself must determine entitlement to attorney’s fees and costs and reserve jurisdiction only as to the amount owed.”) Notwithstanding this exception, file the motion for attorney’s fees and costs within 30 days — no excuses.

 

Please contact David Adelstein at dadelstein@gmail.com or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.

 

 

 

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I Lost the Appeal. Should I File an Appellate Motion for Rehearing???

Posted by David Adelstein on August 13, 2015
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Oh no. I have lost the appeal. Now what? Do I file an appellate motion for rehearing?

Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.330(a) states in pertinent part:

“A motion for rehearing…a written opinion may be filed within 15 days of an order or within such other time set by the court. A motion for rehearing shall state with particularity the points of law or fact that, in the opinion of the movant, the court has overlooked or misapprehended in its decision, and shall not present issues not previously raised in the proceeding.…A response may be served within 10 days of service of the motion.”

Unfortunately, there is the strong sentiment, however, that motions for rehearing are misused. These motions are NOT grounds for raising arguments for the first time. See Cleveland v. State, 887 So.2d 362, 364 (Fla. 5th DCA 2004). They are NOT grounds for rearguing the merits of the appeal. See Seslow v. Seslow, 625 So.2d 1248 (Fla. 4th DCA 1993). And, they are NOT to be used for expressing displeasure with the written opinion. See Ayala v. Gonzalaez, 984 So.2d 523, 526 (Fla. 5th DCA 2008).

Then what are motions for rehearing really for? As set forth in the above rule, these motions are for raising “points of law or fact that…the court has overlooked or misapprehended.”

“Motions for rehearing are strictly limited to calling our attention-without argument-to something we have obviously overlooked or misapprehended. The motion for rehearing is not a vehicle for counsel or the party to continue its attempts at advocacy. It should be demonstrative only-i.e. merely point to the overlooked or misunderstood fact or circumstance. If we want additional argument, we know how to say so.”

Goter v. Brown, 682 So.2d 1255, 1256 (Fla. 4th DCA 1996).

What if the court does not issue a written opinion and instead issues a per curiam affirmance (known as a PCA) without opinion? In other words, how could the court overlook something if it doesn’t issue a written opinion? Generally, it cannot. In this instance, motions for rehearing “are [very] rare and are most often limited to occasions when a relevant decision of the Supreme Court or another District Court of Appeal is rendered after briefing and oral argument and not considered by the court.”

Now, even more rare is a motion for rehearing en banc pursuant to Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.331. “A party may move for an en banc rehearing [of all the district court of appeal’s judges in regular active service] solely on the grounds that the case or issue is of exceptional importance or that such consideration is necessary to maintain uniformity in the court’s decisions.”  Fla.R.App.P. 9.331(d)(1).  

Please contact David Adelstein at dadelstein@gmail.com or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.

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