In Pino v. The Bank of New York (SC11-697), a divided Florida Supreme Court denied "the parties’ request to dismiss this proceeding." Justice Pariente, Justice Lewis, Justice Labarga, and Justice Perry concurred in the per curiam opinion. Chief Justice Canady wrote a dissenting opinion that was joined by Justice Quince and Justice Polston. The case came to the Florida Supreme Court after the Fourth District, sitting en banc, certified the following question as one of great public importance:
DOES A TRIAL COURT HAVE JURISDICTION AND AUTHORITY UNDER RULE 1.540(b), Fla. R. Civ. P., OR UNDER ITS INHERENT AUTHORITY TO GRANT RELIEF FROM A VOLUNTARY DISMISSAL WHERE THE MOTION ALLEGES A FRAUD ON THE COURT IN THE PROCEEDINGS BUT NO AFFIRMATIVE RELIEF ON BEHALF OF THE PLAINTIFF HAS BEEN OBTAINED FROM THE COURT?
Pino v. Bank of New York Mellon, 57 So. 3d 950, 951 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011). The Fourth District's opinion was previously discussed HERE. Based upon the Fourth District's certified question, the Florida Supreme Court accepted jurisdiction. Pino v. Bank of New York, 58 So. 3d 261 (Fla. 2011).
After the supreme court accepted jurisdiction, the parties settled the dispute and filed a stipulation for dismissal in the Florida Supreme Court. The Court declined to accept the stipulation for dismissal and stated:
The question certified to us by the Fourth District Court of Appeal in this case transcends the individual parties to this action because it has the potential to impact the mortgage foreclosure crisis throughout this state and is one on which Florida’s trial courts and litigants need guidance. The legal issue also has implications beyond mortgage foreclosure actions. Because we agree with the Fourth District that this issue is indeed one of great public importance and in need of resolution by this Court, we deny the parties’ request to dismiss this proceeding.
Analyzing Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.350, the supreme court stated that the "language of this rule does not impose upon the appellate court a mandatory obligation to dismiss a case following the filing of a notice of dismissal before a decision on the merits has been rendered. Rather, this Court has long recognized its discretion to retain jurisdiction over a matter and proceed with an appeal notwithstanding a litigant’s timely filing of a notice of dismissal pursuant to rule 9.350, especially when the matter involves one of great public importance and is likely to recur."
Based upon that conclusion, the majority held:
Consistent with the rationale undergirding our prior precedent, we conclude that these circumstances fully support this Court’s decision to exercise its discretion to retain jurisdiction over and decide the merits of this important case. To adopt the dissent’s interpretation of rule 9.350(a)—that the act of the parties’ stipulation for dismissal is binding on the Court—would require us to recede from our past decisions recognizing just the opposite. Instead, we adhere to our precedent and, accordingly, exercise our discretion to deny the parties leave to dismiss this review proceeding.
The dissent began:
Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.350(a) provides that “[w]hen any cause pending in the court is settled before a decision on the merits, the parties shall immediately notify the court by filing a signed stipulation for dismissal.” The rule does not appear to contemplate that such a stipulation for dismissal is subject to disapproval by the Court. The very designation “stipulation for dismissal”—as opposed to “motion for dismissal”—suggests that the act of the parties is dispositive. The committee note to the rule recognizes that dismissal of the case is the clerk’s ministerial duty: “On the filing of a stipulation of dismissal, the clerk of the court will dismiss the case as to the parties signing the stipulation.”.....
Under the Florida Constitution, this Court does not have the power to reach out and grab cases that we deem worthy of our attention. Nor should we exercise the power to grasp a case which has been brought to the Court but which the parties wish to dismiss before it has ever been considered by the Court on the merits. In doing so, we step beyond the proper role of an appellate court to adjudicate those cases that are properly presented to it by a party seeking review.