39 Fla. L. Weekly D882a
directed at denial of relief from judgment is unauthorized and will not toll
thirty-day time limit for filing appeal — Trial court may not sua sponte decide
to revisit a matter a party could not otherwise request the court revisit —
Court’s referral to magistrate was not a permissible sua sponte grant of
rehearing/reconsideration sufficient to toll time to appeal — Appeal filed
beyond thirty-day limit dismissed as untimely
WACHOVIA MORTGAGE, F.S.B. F/K/A WORLD SAVINGS BANK, F.S.B., Appellee. 1st
District. Case No. 1D13-1758. Opinion filed April 25, 2014. An appeal from the
Circuit Court for Levy County. Ysleta W. McDonald, Judge. Counsel: Rory K.
Rohan, Pembroke Pines, for Appellant. Michael K. Winston, Dean A. Morande, and
Donna L. Eng, Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, P.A., West Palm Beach, and Albertelli
Law, Tampa, for Appellee.
motion to vacate a final judgment of foreclosure. Initially, this Court found
Appellant had timely invoked its jurisdiction. Upon further review, however, we
find we are without jurisdiction, withdraw our previous conflicting orders, and
dismiss Appellant’s appeal.
foreclosure against Appellant, Scott Helmich. In September 2012 Appellant filed
a motion for relief from this final judgment. Days later, the trial court denied
Appellant’s motion for relief from final judgment. Three days after that,
Appellant filed a motion for “rehearing/reconsideration.” Eight days after the
court’s denial, the court referred “pending motions” for review and hearing
before a general magistrate. Ultimately, the magistrate recommended denying
Appellant’s motion. And in April 2013, the court approved the magistrate’s
report and recommendation and adopted it, effectively denying Appellant’s motion
for rehearing/reconsideration. Appellant appealed to this Court.
I. The Issue Presented
of the final judgment; this is jurisdictional and irremediable. Sims v.
State, 998 So. 2d 494, 509-11 (Fla. 2008). It is also clear that a party’s
motion for rehearing/reconsideration directed at denial of relief from judgment
is unauthorized and will not toll the unwavering thirty-day time limit. Fla. R.
App. P. 9.130(a)(5); Frantz v. Moore, 772 So. 2d 581, 581 (Fla. 1st DCA
2000). This is true even where the court erroneously takes up an unauthorized
motion for rehearing. Princess Cruises, Inc. v. Edwards, 611 So. 2d 598
(Fla. 2d DCA 1993); Potucek v. Smeja, 419 So. 2d 1192, 1194 (Fla. 2d DCA
sua sponte decide to revisit a matter a party could not otherwise request the
court revisit.1 That is, whether referral
to the magistrate was a permissible sua sponte grant of
rehearing/reconsideration sufficient to toll Appellant’s time to appeal. We hold
the trial court was without authority to either rehear or reconsider its denial
of relief from final judgment. As a result, Appellant’s notice of appeal, filed
some six months after the court’s denial, was untimely.
matter after entry of judgment:
Not later than [ten2] days
after entry of judgment or within the time of ruling on a timely motion for a
rehearing or a new trial made by a party, the court of its own initiative may
order a rehearing or a new trial for any reason for which it might have granted
a rehearing or a new trial on motion of a party.
contemplated by Rule 1.530(d). See In re Amendments to the Fla. Rules
of Appellate Procedure, 2 So. 3d 89, 92-93 (Fla. 2008) (explaining “unique
nature” of order denying relief from judgment); see also Talley v.
Canal Indem. Co., 558 So. 2d 1088, 1088-90 (Fla. 4th DCA 1990) (Anstead, J.,
specially concurring) (explaining denial of 1.540 motion is not a “judgment”
“subject to motion for rehearing under Rule 1.530[d]”); Francisco v. Victoria
Marine Shipping, Inc., 486 So. 2d 1386, 1387 (Fla. 3d DCA 1986) (holding
denial of relief from final judgment is not a “judgment” as contemplated under
Rule 1.530(d)). Rule 1.530(d) only permits courts to rehear matters after entry
of “judgment.” As the court’s denial is not a judgment under Rule 1.530(d), the
court was without authority to rehear its denial of relief from judgment.
“for any reason for which it might have granted a rehearing or a new trial on
motion of a party.” Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.530(d) (emphasis added). The court is
thus limited to initiating and granting rehearing for reasons it could have done
so had a party requested it. Id. A party, though, is not authorized to
move for rehearing of a 1.540 denial. Frantz, 772 So. 2d at 581.
Correspondingly, a court would not have been authorized to grant rehearing on
request of a party, and it does not then have the authority under Rule 1.530(d)
to initiate rehearing on its own accord.
and manner provided by rule or statute.” See Shelby Mut. Ins. Co. v.
Pearson, 236 So. 2d 1, 3-4 (Fla. 1970). These methods are exclusive.
See Buckman v. Beighley, 128 So. 3d 133, 134 (Fla. 1st DCA 2013).
Here, neither the court nor Appellant possessed a mechanism to rehear the
court’s denial of relief from judgment. Instead, Appellant’s mechanism for
review of the court’s denial was timely appeal to this Court.
courts have the inherent authority to reconsider most matters. See
generally Panama City Gen. P’ship v. Godfrey Panama City Inv., LLC,
109 So. 3d 291, 292 (Fla. 1st DCA 2013) (construing unauthorized motion for
rehearing as motion for reconsideration and explaining general ability of trial
court to reconsider matters it could not otherwise rehear) (citing
Monte Campbell Crane Co., Inc. v. Hancock, 510 So. 2d 1104 (Fla. 4th DCA
1987)); see also Silverstrone v. Edell, 721 So. 2d 1173, 1175
(Fla. 1998) (citing N. Shore Hosp., Inc. v. Barber, 143 So. 2d 849, 851
(Fla. 1962) (“[I]t is well settled that a trial court has the inherent authority
to control its own interlocutory orders prior to final judgment.”)).
rendered prior to final judgment. See Panama City Gen. P’ship, 109
So. 3d at 292 (“any order entered prior to the rendition of final judgment in
the cause.”); see also Silverstrone, 721 So. 2d at 1175 (“any of
its nonfinal rulings prior to entry of the final judgment or order terminating
an action”); N. Shore Hosp., 143 So. 2d at 851 (“control its own
interlocutory orders prior to final judgment”). An order denying a motion for
relief from judgment is not interlocutory or non-final. See Fla. Rules
of Appellate Procedure, 2 So. 3d 89, 92-93 (Fla. 2008) (explaining “unique
nature” of order denying relief from judgment and amending Rule 9.130 title to
include “specified final orders”). And the denial comes after final judgment,
thus limiting the jurisdiction and authority of the trial court to Rules 1.530
and 1.540. See Shelby Mut. Ins. Co. v. Pearson, 236 So. 2d 1, 3-4
(Fla. 1970); Buckman v. Beighley, 128 So. 3d 133, 134 (Fla. 1st DCA
2013). Because the denial was not interlocutory or non-final, and because it was
subject to the strict limits and manner of rule and statute, the court was
without inherent authority to reconsider its decision. Instead, Appellant’s
mechanism for review was timely appeal to this Court.
permitting the court leeway to rehear and reconsider its rulings, with the need
for finality and efficiency. See Francisco, 486 So. 2d at 1389;
see also Shelby Mut. Ins. Co. v. Pearson, 236 So. 2d at 3. Our
determination preserves this balance. Rule 1.530(d) provides the first ability
to attack a “judgment” within ten/fifteen days of rendering. Rule 1.540 then
permits a second challenge to the already final judgment — sometimes many years
afterwards. And finally, this second challenge (to something already final and
potentially reheard) would be reviewed by an appellate court. The current depth
of review provides an appropriate balance between correctness and finality,
without the need to add an additional review mechanism.
if it could have done so upon the motion of a party. This was not a judgment, as
contemplated by Rule 1.530(d), and neither Appellant nor Appellee was authorized
to seek rehearing. The trial court was not authorized to do so either.
Reconsideration is only appropriate for interlocutory orders prior to final
judgment. The trial court’s denial of relief from judgment is not interlocutory,
and rendered after final judgment, pursuant to particular and special relief
specified by rule. This denial was not subject to reconsideration.
of his request for relief from judgment. Neither Appellant’s request for
rehearing or reconsideration, nor the court’s sua sponte referral to a
magistrate, tolled this time. Appellant filed his notice of appeal well beyond
his thirty-day limit. Accordingly, his appeal is DISMISSED as untimely.
(PADOVANO, CLARK, and SWANSON, JJ., CONCUR.)
authority, from this jurisdiction or otherwise, addresses this specific issue.
This appears to be an issue of first impression and would not, therefore,
conflict with any case law from this Court or our sister courts.
period has been expanded to fifteen days. In re Amendments to Fla. Rules of
Civil Procedure, 131 So. 3d 643, 651 (Fla. 2013).
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