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