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I Won My Case. Should I Be Concerned With a Change in Case Law???

The short answer is no. Although the Plaintiffs, by and through their respective counsel, may declared within their alleged Motions for Rehearing and Reconsideration that based on changes in case law court orders she be changed or otherwise vacated, there is nothing in the rules of civil procedure that would remotely permit a court to do such a thing.

To be sure, there is only one instance of which I am aware, permitting a court to revisit its final orders after all review and appellate deadlines have expired.[1] Those final orders which are collaterally reviewed however are reviewed in substantially limited circumstances. To begin, collateral review is limited to criminal matters specifically, and among them capital criminal cases in particular. It should be noted that even amongst those matters which warrant a collateral review, the basis upon which a motion for collateral review of a final order is granted, is considerably narrow. Final orders in a capital case will only be overturned or reversed due to an alleged change of law under Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.850 when the alleged change: “(a) emanates from this Court or the United States Supreme Court, (b) is constitutional in nature, and (c) constitutes a development of fundamental significance. Most law changes of “fundamental significance” will fall within the two broad categories described earlier.” Witt v. State, 387 So. 2d 922, 931 (Fla. 1980). The final order as provided by a court in the context of a lien foreclosure matter clearly doesn’t even come close to the threshold Plaintiffs, and their counsel, would apparently like courts to believe it does. See United States v. Addonizio, 442 U.S. 178, 184 & n.11, 99 S.Ct. 2235, 2240 & n.11, 60 L.Ed.2d 805 (1979) (footnote omitted); See also Linkletter v. Walker, 381 U.S. 618, 637-38, 85 S.Ct. 1731, 1741-42, 14 L.Ed.2d 601 (1965); See also State v. Barnum, 921 So. 2d 513, 518 (Fla. 2005), as revised on denial of reh'g (Feb. 9, 2006).

Doctrine of Finality

The Courts throughout Florida or for that matter any justice system, employ the well-established “Doctrine of Finality.” The Doctrine of Finality ensures that just because Florida laws may change over time, prior rulings are not then automatically reversed, for if they were, then the finality of laws as enforced throughout the justice system and demanded from the public at large, would simply be an illusion. Witt v. State, 387 So. 2d 922, 925 (Fla. 1980). “The importance of finality in any justice system, including the criminal justice system, cannot be understated. It has long been recognized that, for several reasons, litigation must, at some point, come to an end. In terms of the availability of judicial resources, cases must eventually become final simply to allow effective appellate review of other cases.” Id. Again, the Criminal Justice system, unlike that of the Civil Law system, has established within it an opportunity for collateral review on issues like that of death penalty sentences where a change of law, not legal interpretation, is of such substance and consequence that the very underlying Constitutionally of the prior final order as entered must be vacated. See again State v. Barnum, 921 So. 2d 513, 518 (Fla. 2005), as revised on denial of reh'g (Feb. 9, 2006). Lastly, the law's concern for finality of decisions is in no way diminished by the availability and utilization of a collateral remedy such as Rule 3.850.[2] See again Witt v. State, 387 So. 2d 922, 925 (Fla. 1980). Nevertheless, based on the foregoing Plaintiff’s argument is proven to be nothing more than mere smoke and mirrors, if not a procedural blunder.

Insufficiency of Plaintiff’s Motion for Rehearing

Again motions for reconsideration are not permitted (a) once the Court loses its jurisdiction through a dismissal. A Plaintiff’s recourse is only to either request the Court rehear the matter in a timely filed motion or otherwise appeal the motion. If they fail to do either of those options, the Plaintiff still fails in their effort to overturn a final order of dismissal with prejudice for the following reasons:

It is undisputed what a motion for “rehearing” pursuant to Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.530 applies to. A motion for rehearing only applies 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.” See Seigler v. Bell, 148 So. 3d 473, 478 (Fla. 5th DCA 2014) (quoting Francisco v. Victoria Marine Shipping, Inc., 486 So.2d 1386, 1390 n. 6 (Fla. 3d DCA 1986)). However, the Supreme Court of Florida has defined the occasions for why a motion for rehearing should be filed, and it is that point which the Defendant now seeks to parse out of the Plaintiff’s argument. (Emphasis added.)

The Florida Supreme Court held that “[a] petition for a rehearing is a means afforded by rule to present to the court some point which it overlooked or failed to consider by reason whereof its judgment is erroneous. See Atlantic Coast Line R. Co. v. City of Lakeland, 94 Fla. 347, 1928); see also Cole v. Cole, 130 So. 2d 126, 130 (Fla. 1st DCA 1961) (citing Hollywood, Inc., v. Clark, 153 Fla. 501, 1943)(holding “[a] prime function of a petition for rehearing is to present to the trial court some point which it overlooked or failed to consider, which renders the decree inequitable and erroneous.”)). However, “[a] motion …for rehearing must state the grounds on which it is based with particularity. It must direct the attention of the court to the particular error or omission … to which [the] objection is made.” (Emphasis added). Trawick’s Florida Practice and Procedure, §26:1, 2007 Edition, (citing Kahn v. Delaware Securities Corporation, 114 Fla. 32 (1934).

The grounds for a motion for rehearing are quite narrow. Only the following categories are applicable for a motion for rehearing: (1) Errors on the face of the record; (2) Errors committed during the trial, including rulings admitting or excluding evidence and jury instructions; (3) Surprise; and (4) Newly discovered evidence. Trawick’s Florida Practice and Procedure, §26:1, 2007 Edition, citing Braznell v. Braznell, 140 Fla. 192 (1939)). Additionally, “[t]he factual grounds of a motion for new trial or for rehearing are not self-verifying. They require proof unless shown by the record.” (Emphasis added). Trawick’s Florida Practice and Procedure, §26:1, 2007 Edition, citing Young v. State, 140 So.2d 97 (Fla. 1962)).

If a Plaintiff has not made any claim of error on the face of the record and the Plaintiff seeks only to restate arguments that were already presented at a prior final hearing, then Plaintiff’s Motion for Rehearing is insufficient as a matter of law. Be careful, if a Plaintiff’s sole line of support for their conduct in inducing a court to subject itself to reversible error is that case law from a respective District Court of Appeal now interprets the law in a distinguishable fashion from prior case law in the same District. See Allard v. Al-Nayem Intern., Inc., 59 So.3d 198 (Fla. 2d DCA 2011). In Allard, the appellate court held that “[t]he trial court improperly granted a rehearing. “Rehearing is not intended as a device to present additional evidence that was available, although not presented.” (Emphasis added). Id.; see also St. Petersburg Hous. Auth. v. J.R. Dev., 706 So.2d 1377, 1378 (Fla. 2d DCA 1998)).

In Allard, the plaintiff sued for breach of a warranty deed and “consciously elected to proceed upon…what was ultimately determined to be an invalid theory of damages.” Id. The Court determined that because alternative theories of damages were available and the plaintiff chose not to rely upon them, a rehearing to introduce evidence that was available although not presented would be improper. Unquestionably, ruling in favor of a bank on any issue in their motion for rehearing, would invariably invite reversible error in light of the decade’s worth of codified rules and law concerning the improper request made by a Plaintiff and their counsel. See also Fla. Stat. Ann. § 57.105 (2016); See also Pino v. Bank of New York, 121 So. 3d 23, 27 (Fla. 2013).

[1] The deadlines referred to here are: (a) 15 days for motions for rehearing pursuant to Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.530, and (b) 30 days for appeal.

[2] See also ABA Standards Relating To Post-Conviction Remedies 3 (Approv. Draft 1968) (“A general principle underlying these standards is that once an issue of fact or law has been finally determined, that adjudication ought to be final and binding.”).