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Florida Appeals and Voluntary Dismissal

Uncategorized Aug 24, 2020
post about Florida Appeals and Voluntary Dismissal

What is an appeal? When can you file an appeal in Florida? When do you need to consult with a West Palm Beach appellate attorney? What does the voluntary dismissal of a lawsuit have to do with an appeal? If you voluntarily dismiss a Florida probate lawsuit, can you later appeal a trial court ruling that occurred during that lawsuit? Why is it important to consider the possibility of an appeal during litigation?

Florida Inheritance Litigation and Civil Appeals

Florida lawyers know that some trust or estate cases can lead to an appeal. If you disagree with a final judgment or order, you may be able to file an appeal. Also, if you win a Florida probate case, the other side may choose to appeal. Therefore, it is important to anticipate the possibility of having to hire a West Palm Beach appellate attorney.

If you are in the process of hiring a Florida law firm to assist you with probate or trust litigation, you may want to look for a firm that is experienced in both litigation and appeals.

If you hire a law firm that limits its practice to civil litigation and appeals, you may end up at advantage. Florida attorneys with both litigation and appellate experience know what to do during trial to ensure that issues are preserved for appeal. In addition, having experienced trial lawyers and appellate lawyers in one firm is beneficial because you may save time and money during an appeal due to the fact that the firm is already familiar with your case. If you need to hire a separate Florida appellate attorney, that attorney will need to obtain and review all of the trial level documents before starting the appeal, which usually takes time and money.

Hiring a Florida Appellate Lawyer For Your Probate Appeal

If you already have a Florida litigator, and are in the process of hiring a West Palm Beach appellate attorney, consider looking for an appellate lawyer with extensive experience in handling civil appeals. Does the West Palm Beach appellate attorney you are interviewing have over twenty years of experience? How many appellate briefs have they written? What are their credentials? Are they Board Certified by the Florida Bar? Does the appellate attorney frequently handle the specific type of appeal you have?

At Pankauski Hauser Lazarus, one of the law partners, Robert Hauser, has been named a Board Certified Specialist by The Florida Bar in Appellate Practice since June 1, 2009. This designates Mr. Hauser as an expert and specialist in appeals in Florida. Mr. Hauser, and the appellate team at Pankauski Hauser Lazarus, handles civil appeals in each and every district court of appeal in Florida. 

Metalonis v. Eastgroup Properties

This February 12, 2020, Third DCA opinion shows just how important it is that your Florida trial attorney is knowledgeable about preserving issues for appeal.

Here, the parties had entered into a Florida settlement agreement. Eastgroup would pay Metalonis a sum of money in exchange for his voluntary dismissal of the lawsuit with prejudice. Eastgroup paid the agreed upon amount but Metalonis did not voluntarily dismiss the action.

Therefore, Eastgroup filed an emergency motion to compel compliance with settlement agreement. The trial court, after a hearing, approved the terms of the agreement, granted the motion to compel and retained jurisdiction to enforce the terms of the settlement agreement. The court ordered that Metalonis file a notice of voluntary dismissal with prejudice in compliance with the terms of the settlement agreement. If Metalonis failed to file the voluntary dismissal, the court would dismiss the case with prejudice.

Metalonis filed the voluntary dismissal. After the case was dismissed, Metalonis tried to appeal the trail court’s order granting the emergency motion to compel. Unfortunately, by filing the voluntary dismissal, rather than preserving his appellate rights by allowing the court to dismiss the case with prejudice, he had lost his chance to appeal.

Florida Voluntary Dismissal and Appeals

Once a party to a Florida lawsuit voluntarily dismisses his or her case, the trial court lacks jurisdiction to do anything. Likewise, once a voluntary dismissal occurs in a Florida lawsuit, no party may appeal a ruling of the trial court, since the Florida district court of appeal lacks jurisdiction to review anything. 

The Metalonis v. Eastgroup case teaches those involved in a Florida lawsuit a valuable lesson. If you want relief from an appellate court in Florida, don’t voluntarily dismiss your lawsuit.  In other words, do not dismiss your case voluntarily unless you are sure that you want it all to be over.

If you are involved in probate or business litigation, you should consult with your litigator and a West Palm beach appellate lawyer before making any decisions that could prevent you from later filing a Florida appeal.

To consult with a Florida appellate attorney, free of charge, call (561)268-0233 ext.101