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A Guide to Florida’s New Summary Judgment Rule

Jason Turchin, Esq.

The Florida Supreme Court recently made significant changes to Rule 1.510, which governs summary judgment procedures in the state. These changes aim to align Florida’s summary judgment standard with the federal standard, providing clarity and potentially reducing unnecessary litigation. Understanding this new rule can be crucial for both plaintiffs and defendants in civil cases.

What is Summary Judgment?

Summary judgment is a legal procedure that allows a court to decide a case without a full trial. It can be granted when there are no genuine disputes over material facts, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. This mechanism can help expedite cases and reduce court congestion by resolving clear-cut issues early in the litigation process.

Key Changes in the New Rule

The revised Rule 1.510, effective as of May 1, 2021, introduces several important modifications:

  1. Alignment with Federal Standard: The new rule adopts the federal summary judgment standard, which requires that the evidence be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. This change aims to make the summary judgment process more consistent and predictable.
  2. Clarification on Burden of Proof: The party moving for summary judgment must demonstrate that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact. If the moving party meets this burden, the non-moving party must then present specific facts showing that a genuine issue exists for trial.
  3. Timelines for Filing: The rule sets forth clear timelines for filing motions and responses. A motion for summary judgment must be filed at least 40 days before the hearing, and the opposing party must respond at least 20 days before the hearing. These deadlines ensure that both parties have ample time to prepare their arguments.
  4. Court’s Role in Summary Judgment: The revised rule emphasizes the court’s role in determining whether the evidence presents a genuine issue of material fact. The court must consider all evidence, including affidavits, depositions, and other admissible materials, in making this determination.

Implications for Litigants

The adoption of the federal standard may have several implications for litigants in Florida:

  • Increased Use of Summary Judgment: The more precise standards may lead to an increased number of summary judgment motions, as parties seek to resolve clear-cut cases without the need for a full trial.
  • Emphasis on Evidence: Both plaintiffs and defendants will need to focus more on gathering and presenting robust evidence to support their positions, as the courts will closely scrutinize the factual basis of summary judgment motions.
  • Potential for Reduced Litigation Costs: By potentially resolving cases earlier in the process, the new rule may help reduce litigation costs for parties, particularly in cases where the facts are not in dispute.

Practical Tips for Navigating the New Rule

  1. Prepare Early: Given the new timelines, it is crucial to start preparing for a potential summary judgment motion early in the litigation process. This includes gathering evidence and identifying key issues that may be suitable for summary judgment or defending against summary judgment.
  2. Focus on Evidence: Ensure that all evidence is admissible and effectively presented. Affidavits, depositions, and other materials should be clear, concise, and directly relevant to the issues at hand.
  3. Consult Experienced Legal Counsel: Navigating the new summary judgment rule can be complex. Consulting with an attorney experienced in Florida civil procedure can provide valuable insights and help craft a compelling argument for or against summary judgment.

For more information on how these changes might affect your case or to discuss your legal options, please visit or contact the Law Offices of Jason Turchin.

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