Friday, February 18, 2011

Case Can Be Procedurally Ready For Trial Years Before It Is Actually Ready For Trial

In Parkinson v. Kia Motors Corp. (5D10-3716), the Fifth District denied a petition for writ of mandamus that was seeking to force a circuit court judge to move forward with a trial. The court discussed the difference between a case being procedurally ready for trial pursuant to Rule 1.440, Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, and a case actually being ready for trial. When a case is procedurally ready for trial, the trial court must set it for trial when a party properly provides notice that the case is at issue. However, it is within the trial Court's discretion to determine when the case will actually be ready and, therefore, to determine the date it should be set. In this case:
Here, the trial court has not refused to set a trial date; rather, it offered to set a date in 2012, based on its conclusion that the case was complex and that many difficult and novel issues required resolution before a trial of such length could go forward. Although a delay approaching eighteen months to obtain a two-week civil trial in a circuit court in Central Florida is shocking, we have to recognize that under the new regime of ever-decreasing resources, this may be – or may become – the norm. A 2012 trial date may be unacceptable to Petitioner, but we are not in a position, at this stage, to micro-manage the scheduling of this trial. The timing of the trial is a matter left to the sound discretion of the trial court. We do not know what other matters are competing for the trial judge's attention and how much support he has. Accordingly, we deny the petition for writ of mandamus, but admonish the trial court that it is obliged to schedule a case for trial that is at issue and properly noticed, notwithstanding pending motions for summary judgment.


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