Navigating the Top Land Mines of Civil Litigation: How to Survive

I begin this blog by  sharing with you a few litigation practice tips which I have encountered over the past several years. Over the next few weeks we will address some of the key “land mines” to be wary of while treading through the murky world of  civil litigation.

Land Mine Number 1: Motion for Rehearing/Reconsideration and Nonfinal Orders

A motion for rehearing or reconsideration of a nonfinal order does not toll the time for filing your notice of appeal.

Motions for rehearing which do toll the time for taking your appeal must be “authorized,” i.e., directed toward orders and judgments that are final in nature.

Motions for rehearing are generally directed toward final orders, while motions for reconsideration are typically directed toward nonfinal orders. Litigants will often use the terms interchangeably, which adds to  confusion which can result in a missed deadline. Regardless of the title used, if the motion is directed toward a nonfinal order, there is no tolling of time.

And be aware: it is not always clear when an order is  considered “final” for purposes of rendition under the appellate rules. The question becomes:  has all judicial labor ended in the case? However, the answer to this question is not always so obvious. As a general rule, piecemeal appeals are not permitted where claims are legally interrelated, involve  the same transaction, and the same parties remain in the lawsuit. But these standards are relaxed and a partial judgment can be appealable as a final order when the judgment resolves a distinct and severable cause of action. See generally Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure 9.110 (k) and  9.020 (i) (j); Jensen v. Whetstine, 985 So.2d 1218 (Fla. 1st DCA 2008); Palm Beach Newspapers, Inc.v. Walker, 506 So.2d 39 (Fla. 4th DCA 1987). When in doubt, always check out the case law regarding your particular order and circumstances.

Next week we will focus on Land Mine Number 2: Jury Selection.


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