Declaratory Judgment / Relief Considerations
There are a number of lawsuits where a party will assert a claim for declaratory judgment/relief. This is a claim oftentimes included in insurance coverage disputes, but is also asserted in a plethora of other types of civil disputes where a party asks the trial court to issue a declaration.
To be legally sufficient, a complaint for declaratory relief must allege that:
(1) there is a bona fide dispute between the parties; (2) the plaintiff has a justiciable question as to the existence or nonexistence of some right, status, immunity, power or privilege, or as to some fact upon which existence of such a claim may depend; (3) the plaintiff is in doubt as to the claim; and (4) there is a bona fide, actual, present need for the declaration.
Heisel v. City of Deltona, 46 Fla.L.Weekly D2107a (Fla. 5th DCA 2021).
When a defendant moves to dismiss a claim for declaratory relief/judgment, the issue is not “whether the complaint shows that the plaintiff will succeed in getting a declaration of rights in accordance with his theory and contention, but whether he is entitled to a declaration at all.” Id. quoting Kelley v. Kelley, 147 So.3d 597, 601 (Fla. 4th DCA 2014).
Furthermore, if a trial court enters a declaratory judgment/relief and the defendant appeals the judgment, the trial court retains “jurisdiction to enforce the Final Judgment on appeal pursuant to section 86.061 [Florida Statutes] absent a stay or supersedeas bond.” Arnold, Jr. v. John R. Arnold, M.D., 46 Fla.L.Weekly D2016a (Fla. 5th DCA 2021). In other words, absent the trial court staying the enforcement of the declaratory judgment, a defendant moving to appeal the declaratory judgment/relief does not divest the trial court of jurisdiction to enforce its judgment. Id.
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