New Year, New Rules Amendments

Must and document. Those two words summarize the latest amendments to the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. The amendments change 16 different rules and introduce a new rule 1.545 dealing only with the Final Disposition Form. The full list of edited rules is below and has been updated with all of the changes, which became effective January 1st.

While covering a lot of ground, the amendments are almost entirely directed toward updating and replacing four words used widely throughout the rules – ‘document’ replaces ‘paper,’ ‘must’ replaces ‘shall,’ ‘on’ replaces ‘upon,’ and ‘immediately’ replaces ‘forthwith.’

The first change, document instead of paper, is obvious. With electronic filing, the reference to paper was archaic. We all knew that the term paper also referred to electronic documents, but the change makes it clear. A document is specifically defined in the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration, Rule 2.520(d), as “pleadings, motions, petitions, memoranda, briefs, notices, exhibits, declarations, affidavits, orders, judgments, decrees, writs, opinions, and any paper or writing submitted to a court.”

The other changes are directed at the same goal, replacing purportedly archaic words. However, at least for shall and upon, it is not clear that the words are actually past their use by date. Judging by filings in my cases, the terms shall and upon are still in regular use by parties and courts across the state. I have not seen a forthwith used in quite some time. Lawyers are loathe to drop a useful word, so time will tell whether these terms are actually headed for the linguistic dust bin.

Revised Rules:

1.020 (Privacy and Court Records);
1.071 (Constitutional Challenge to State Statute or County or Municipal Charter, Ordinance, or Franchise; Notice by Party);
1.100 (Pleadings and Motions);
1.130 (Attaching Copy of Cause of Action and Exhibits);
1.140 (Defenses);
1.170 (Counterclaims and Crossclaims);
1.200 (Pretrial Procedure);
1.310 (Depositions Upon Oral Examination);
1.320 (Depositions Upon Written Questions);
1.340 (Interrogatories to Parties);
1.410 (Subpoena);
1.431 (Trial Jury);
1.500 (Defaults and Final Judgments Thereon);
1.510 (Summary Judgment);
1.625 (Proceedings Against Surety on Judicial Bonds); and
1.630 (Extraordinary Remedies);

New Rule:

1.545 (Final Disposition Form).

In Re: Amendments to the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, Case No. SC16-155 (Fla. Sept. 1, 2016).


Mortgage Foreclosure Rules Amendments

Pursuant to an out of cycle amendment,  Rule 1.110 has been modified to remove certain language specific to mortgage foreclosures and Rule 1.115 has been created to address specific pleading requirements for mortgage foreclosures.  The changes are effective as of December 10th. has been updated to reflect the amendments:

1.110 General Rules of Pleading

1.115 Pleading Mortgage Foreclosures

SC13-2384  In Re: Amendments to the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure (pdf)

Foreclosure Magistrates Rule Change

The Florida Supreme Court has created a new Rule 1.491 that is intended to govern the use of magistrates in all residential mortgage foreclosure cases.  Sections of Rule 1.490 that  dealt exclusively with residential mortgage foreclosures have been deleted from that rule and incorporated into new Rule 1.490.

The rule amendments are effective as of March 13, 2014 and has been updated to reflect the changes.

In Re: Amendments To Florida Rule Of Civil Procedure 1.490 And New Florida Rule Of Civil Procedure 1.491, Case No. SC13-684 (Fla. March 13, 2014)

Update (3/21/2014): Perhaps the most novel verbiage in this amendment is the official comment to new Rule 1.491, which states: 

This rule is the result of an emergency petition by the Trial Court Budget Commission and is intended to alleviate the backlog of residential mortgage foreclosure cases that Florida courts are currently facing.

Rules Amendments and New Rules Effective January 1, 2014

The Florida Supreme Court has amended or added the following rules of civil procedure, effective January 1, 2014:

– Amended Rules –

  1. 1.380 Failure to Make Discovery; Sanctions
  2. 1.431 Trial Jury
  3. 1.442 Proposals for Settlement
  4. 1.480 Motion for a Directed Verdict
  5. 1.490 Magistrates
  6. 1.530 Motions for New Trial and Rehearing; Amendments of Judgments
  7. 1.560 Discovery in Aid of Execution 
  8. 1.630 Extraordinary Remedies

– New Rules – 

  1. 1.020 Privacy and Court Records 
  2. 1.451 Taking Testimony has been updated to reflect the new and amended rules.

E-filing: Amendments to Florida Rules of Judicial Administration

Last week, the Florida Supreme Court amended Florida Rules of Judicial Administration 2.515, 2.516, and 2.525.  These amendments are effective immediately.  Each of the amended rules has been updated on

The amendment to Florida Rule of Judicial Administration Rule 2.515 clarifies and modifies the significance of an attorney’s signature on a document.  What does it mean when at attorney signs a document? Here is a refresher:

2.515(a) . . . The signature of an attorney shall constitute a certificate by the attorney that:
1. the attorney has read the document;
2. to the best of the attorney’s knowledge, information, and belief there is good ground to support the document;
3. the document is not interposed for delay; and
4. the document contains no confidential or sensitive information, or that any such confidential or sensitive information has been properly protected by complying with the provisions of rules 2.420 and 2.425.

The amendment to Rule 2.515 also clarifies and modifies what an attorney represents when she files and/or serves a document:

2.515(c)(2) By serving a document, or by filing a document by electronic transmission using an attorney’s assigned electronic filing credentials:

(A) that attorney certifies compliance with subdivision (a)(1) through (a)(4) and accepts responsibility for the document for all purposes under this rule;
(B) that attorney certifies compliance with all rules of procedure regarding service of the document on attorneys and parties;
(C) that attorney certifies that every person identified as a signer in the document as described in subdivision (c)(1)(C) has authorized such signature; and
(D) every signing attorney is as responsible for the document as if that document had been served by such signing attorney or filed using the assigned electronic filing credentials of such signing attorney.

The amendment to Florida Rule of Judicial Administration Rule 2.516 clarifies and modifies how to electronically serve a document through the e-filing portal.  In  short, if the e-portal automatically serves a party, you do not have to separately serve that party by e-mail.  This tracks the practice in federal court.  The e-filing attorney is responsible for ensuring that the names and correct email addresses of the parties to be served are in the e-portal.

The amendment to Florida Rule of Judicial Administration Rule 2.525 provides that, when e-filing a document, the credentials used to log in to the e-portal must be associated with the same attorney who signed the document; e.g., you cannot have attorney Arthur sign a document and then use attorney Betty’s username and password to sign-in to the e-portal when uploading the document for filing.  This does not prohibit attorney Betty, or attorney Betty’s secretary, from filing the document, but the login credentials used must belong to attorney Arthur.

In Re: Amendments to the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration, Case No. SC13-1915 (Fla. Nov. 14, 2013)

Amendment to Rule 1.490 re Use of Magistrates in Residential Foreclosures

The Florida Supreme Court has amended Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.490, effective immediately, to streamline the use magistrates in residential mortgage foreclosures.

Subdivision (c) of the rule currently requires that no matter be referred to a magistrate without consent of the parties. The amendments authorize referral of residential mortgage foreclosure cases to a magistrate with the implied consent of the parties, but the parties are given the opportunity to object to the referral. This subdivision is also amended to provide language that must be included in bold type in the order of referral to ensure that the parties are given notice of the requirements of the rule. The amendments to this subdivision do not change the consent requirement for other civil cases.

Subdivision (d)  is amended  to prohibit magistrates from practicing law of the same case type in the court in the county or circuit where the magistrate is appointed to serve.

Because the amendments were not published for comment prior to their adoption, interested persons shall have sixty days from the date of this opinion in which to file comments with the Court.

Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.490 has been updated to reflect the amendment.


Court May Not Strike Plaintiff’s Voluntary Dismissal Unless Plaintiff Obtained Affirmative Relief – PINO V. THE BANK OF NEW YORK

 In this contentious foreclosure case, the lender filed multiple complaints that allegedly attached an inauthentic mortgage and assignment.  After receiving a sanctions motion by defense counsel, the lender dismissed the action without prejudice.  The lender then filed a second lawsuit in which it submitted yet another purported assignment with a different date and signed by different a person.  Defense counsel then moved in the first case to strike the voluntary dismissal and request that the case be dismissed “with prejudice” as a sanction for an alleged fraud on the Court.  The trial court denied the motion and the Fourth District affirmed.  The Supreme Court accepted jurisdiction, and affirmed on the following basis:

 “[W]hen a defendant alleges fraud on the court as a basis for seeking to set aside a plaintiff’s voluntary dismissal, the trial court has jurisdiction to reinstate the dismissed action only when the fraud, if proven, resulted in the plaintiff securing affirmative relief to the detriment of the defendant and, upon obtaining that relief, voluntarily dismissing the case to prevent the trial court from remedying the effects of the fraudulent conduct.  Any affirmative relief the plaintiff obtained against the defendant as a result of the fraudulent conduct would clearly have an adverse impact on the defendant, thereby entitling the defendant to seek relief to set aside the voluntary dismissal pursuant to Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.540(b)(3). . . . In this case, because BNY Mellon did not obtain affirmative relief before taking the voluntary dismissal, the trial court did not have jurisdiction to reinstate the dismissed foreclosure action for the purpose of dismissing the action with prejudice.”

Pino v. The Bank of New York, 38 Fla. L. Wkly S78a (Fla. Deb. 7, 2013)

Rules Updates – New E-discovery and E-mail Service Rules Effective September 1st

Per the Florida Supreme Court’s Order amending the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure to implement service by email, the following rules have been updated:

Per the Florida Supreme Court’s Order amending the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure to facilitate electronic discovery, the following rules have been updated:

All of these amendments are effective as of September 1, 2012.

New Rules for Service of Pleadings and Documents by E-mail

New Fla. R. Jud. Admin. 2.516 – Service of Pleadings and Documents, effective September 1, 2012, was created by the Florida Supreme Court as part of the June 21, 2012 Order Amending the Florida Rules of Procedure to implement Service by Email.  The Order follows a trend of centralizing procedures common to multiple practice areas in the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration, which was first noted in the Confidentiality Procedure Amendments.

The new Rule 2.516 provides, generally, that service by e-mail is mandatory.  Exceptions are granted for pro se litigants and attorneys demonstrating they lack access to the internet.

Subsection (b)(1)(A) allows an attorney to file a notice designating up to two additional e-mail addresses to which service should be made.

Subsection (b)(1)(D) states that an email is served at the time it is sent.  That time deadlines are calculated as if service was accomplished by mail, i.e., you still get five days extra for “mailing.”  The option to eliminate the extra five days through service by fax is still available.

The format and content of the email must meet the following:

(i) All documents served by e-mail must be attached to an e-mail message containing a subject line beginning with the words “SERVICE OF COURT DOCUMENT” in all capital letters, followed by the case number of the proceeding in which the documents are being served.
(ii) The body of the e-mail must identify the court in which the proceeding is pending, the case number, the name of the initial party on each side, the title of each document served with that e-mail, and the sender’s name and telephone number.
(iii) Any document served by e-mail may be signed by the “/s/” format, as long as the filed original is signed in accordance with the applicable rule of procedure.
(iv) Any e-mail which, together with its attached documents, exceeds five megabytes (5MB) in size, must be divided and sent as separate e-mails, no one of which may exceed 5MB in size and each of which must be sequentially numbered in the subject line.

Some of the comments to the rule proposal objected that spammers might take advantage of this rule by inserting the phrase “SERVICE OF COURT DOCUMENT” in spam emails to lawyers.  We will see if this fear is realized.

Subsection (b)(2), appears to provide that service by email is mandatory even when other means of service, such as hand delivery to the attorney or their office, are used.

Section (h) governs the service of Orders and generally allows service of Orders by email.  The only exception appears to be a final judgment against a defaulted party, which must be mailed to that party.

The full Fla. R. Jud. Admin. 2.516 – Service of Pleadings and Documents is now up at

Update: This rule applies only after initial service is accomplished per Chapter 48, Fla. Stat.  You cannot serve the original complaint and summons by e-mail.

Florida Supreme Court implements e-discovery amendments – Effective September 1st

The amendment covers seven civil procedure rules: 1.200 (Pretrial Procedure); 1.201 (Complex Litigation); 1.280 (General Provisions Governing Discovery); 1.340 (Interrogatories to Parties); 1.350 (Production of Documents and Things and Entry Upon Land for Inspection and Other Purposes); 1.380 (Failure to Make Discovery; Sanctions); and 1.410 (Subpoena).

The amendment largely mirrors the Federal Rules, but does not require an initial case management conference.