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June 25, 2024

The Florida Supreme Court recently approved significant amendments to the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure.[1]  Below are summaries of some of the notable changes to the rules.

Rule 1.110 (General Rule on Pleadings):

The amendment requires parties asserting an affirmative defense to include a short and plain statement of ultimate facts supporting the affirmative defense. 

Rule 1.200 (Case Management; Pretrial Procedure):

Rule 1.200 was re-written to require courts to assign all actions to either streamlined, general or complex case management tracks.  Based upon the assigned track, the court must issue a case management order with litigation deadlines.  These deadlines “must be strictly enforced unless changed by court order” though parties may “submit an agreed order to extend a deadline if the extension does not affect the ability to comply with the remaining dates in the case management order.”    However, any motion seeing to extend a deadline, amend a case management order or alter a projected trial period must specify (1) the basis for the extension, stating when the movant became aware of the need for an extension, (2) whether the motion is opposed, (3) the specific date requested for the new deadline or trial period and (4) the necessary actions that will enable the movant to meet the new deadlines.  Deadlines will not be impacted by the filing of a notice of non-availability.  Scheduling issues may also be addressed at case management conferences by filing a notice identifying the issues that need to be addressed.

The amendment also modifies what issues may be addressed at a case management conference and how case management conferences may be scheduled.  The court may notice a case management conference on its own or by notice from any party.  If noticed by a party, the notice must identify the specific issues to be addressed during the case management conference and must also provide a list of all pending motions.  If time and notice are sufficient, the court may elect to hear any pending motions other than motions for summary judgment or motions requiring evidentiary hearings, even if the motion is not specified in the notice of case management conference.  Parties, including pro se parties, are required to be prepared and have authority to make decisions about the case including authority to enter into binding agreements concerning motions and scheduling.  Orders following the case management conference are mandatory.  Failure to attend a noticed case management conference may result in sanctions, including striking of pleadings. 

The amendment also expands the scope of the issues that may be considered at pre-trial conferences, allowing the court to address several additional logistical issues in advance of trial including a statement of the issues to be tried, possibility of evidentiary and other stipulations, trial witnesses, use of technology, order of proof at trial, number of jurors and jury instruction and verdict forms.

New Rule 1.202 (Conferral Prior to Filing Motions):

Previously, the rules only required parties to meet and confer regarding discovery disputes.  However, most courts issued their own administrative orders imposing meet and confer requirements.  New Rule 1.202 requires parties to meet and confer prior to filing a motion in a good faith effort to resolve the issues raised, with the exception of motions for injunctive relief, judgment on the pleadings, or summary judgment.  A certificate of conferral must be filed with the motion.  If parties are unable to confer, the party filing the motion must describe all efforts undertaken to meet and confer. Failure to confer by any party or attorney under this rule may result in sanctions.

Rule 1.280 (General Provisions Governing Discovery):

The amendment incorporates the proportionality language from Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1).[2]  The amendment further requires that parties serve initial disclosures consistent with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)(1) “within 60 days after the service of the complaint or joinder, unless a different time is set by court order.”  This includes disclosing potential witnesses, relevant documents, computation of damages and applicable insurance policies.  The amendment also imposes an ongoing duty to supplement initial disclosures and discovery responses in a timely fashion if a party learns that its prior disclosures or responses were incomplete or incorrect. 

Rule 1.440 (Setting Trial):

The amendment eliminates the “at issue” requirement and allows the court to set trial while the pleadings are still open.  Upon motion by a party or on its own initiative, the court may set a trial date earlier than the projected trial period stated in a case management order.  For cases subject to Rule 1.200, the court must enter an order fixing the trial period not later than 45 days before the trial period set forth in the case management order. 

Rule 1.460 (Motions to Continue Trial):

The amendment changes the title of the rule from “Continuances” to “Motions to Continue Trial.”  The amended rule states that motions to continue trial are disfavored and should rarely be granted and then only upon good cause shown. Unless made at trial, the motion must be in writing and signed by the party (not the party’s attorney) seeking the continuance.  The motion must be made promptly after the discovery of good cause necessitating a continuance.  The motion must identify (1) the basis for the continuance, stating when the movant became aware of the basis, (2) whether the motion is opposed, (3) necessary actions so that the movant can be ready for trial by the proposed date and (4) the proposed date by which the case will be ready for trial. Courts should attempt to address any issues causing delay, including requiring depositions to preserve testimony, resolving conflicts with other trials or allowing remote appearances.  The court may impose sanctions on parties and attorneys if a continuance is granted based upon their dilatory conduct. 

When ruling on a motion to continue, courts must state the basis for the ruling in the order or on the record.  Orders granting continuances must either set a new trial date or set a case management conference and must indicate what further activity will or will not be permitted. 

Rule 1.510 (Summary Judgment):

The amendment eliminates the requirement to serve motions for summary judgment at least 40 days prior to the date of the hearing.  The amended rule requires motions for summary judgment to be served in accordance with the deadlines specified in the case management order.  The non-moving party must respond 60 days after the motion is served, rather than 20 days prior to the hearing.  Importantly, the non-movant’s response deadline is tied to the service of the motion, not the hearing date. 

Rule 1.820 (Hearing Procedures for Non-Binding Arbitration):

Currently, the chief judge for every circuit is required to publish administrative orders setting the procedure for non-binding arbitration.  Under the prior version of the rule, a party could reject the arbitrator’s decision by filing a motion for trial.  The amendment will require the party who wishes to reject the arbitrator’s decision to file a notice of rejection of the arbitration decision and a request for trial within 20 days.  Failure to do to so will result in the entry of an order and judgment imposing the terms of the arbitrator’s decision.  Any party with a third-party claim at issue may also file a notice of rejection within 10 days of the arbitration decision along with a request for trial. 

Effective Date:

The amendments to Rule 1.110 and Rule 1.820 are effective July 1, 2024.  However, the remainder of the amendments will become effective January 1, 2025.  Because the amendments to Rules 1.200, 1.202, 1.280, 1.440, 1.460 and 1.510 were not published prior to adoption, interested persons have until August 6, 2024 to file comments with the Supreme Court of Florida.  In the event of any additional modifications to these rules following the comment period, we will post further updates. 

For any addition questions, please contact Abraham Shakfeh.


[1] In re Amendments to Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, SC2022-1719, 2024 WL 2858716 (Fla. June 6, 2024); In re Amendments to Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.510, SC2024-0662, 2024 WL 2338905 (Fla. May 23, 2024).

[2] “Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party’s claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case, considering the importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount in controversy, the parties’ relative access to relevant information, the parties’ resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit.”