The Second District Court of Appeal, on May 20, issued a ruling that the filing of a motion to enlarge the 30-day time period to respond to a proposal for settlement does not automatically toll that time pending a decision on the motion. The Court also certified its decision is in conflict with a decision of the Fifth District Court of Appeal.
The plaintiff served a proposal for settlement on the defendant who, in turn, filed a motion to extend the 30-day time period to accept the proposal. Defendant then accepted the proposal after the 30 days had expired, but before the trial court had ruled on her motion. Days later, the trial court denied defendant’s motion for extension of time but ultimately ruled her acceptance of the proposal was timely. In part, the trial court relied on Goldy v. Corbett Crane Servs., 692 So.2d 225 (Fla. 5th DCA 1997) (holding that a motion to extend the time to respond to a proposal for settlement tolls that 30-day period until the motion to extend is resolved.)
The plaintiff appealed. The Second District, distinguishing its own similar authority, held “that the filing of a motion to enlarge time to respond to a proposal for settlement does not automatically toll that time pending a decision on the motion. Accordingly, we reverse the final judgment, remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion, and certify conflict with Goldy. Reversed; remanded; conflict certified.”
The case should give pause to practitioners and litigants who seek a court’s extension of any litigation deadline, not just of a proposal for settlement. More worrisome is that the court rules that control motions for extensions of time now differ between the appellate districts of the state.
The opinion will not be final until June 6, 2016, or until any motion for rehearing is decided.