Sunday, September 13, 2009

Two Appeals Dismissed Sua Sponte - Order Below Never "Rendered"

In two cases on Friday, U.S. Bank National Association v. Bjeljac (5D09-2809)  and  Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Lupica (5D09-2902), the Fifth District sua sponte dismissed appeals for lack of jurisdiction.  In both, the court noted that the order being appealed was never actually rendered by the trial court.  "To invoke the jurisdiction of an appellate court, the order for which review is sought must be rendered by the lower court. Fla. R. App. P. 9.110(b). An order is rendered when it is reduced to writing, signed and filed with the clerk of the trial court. Fla. R. App. P.  9.020(h). A rubber-stamped order on a document that has already been filed is, at best, confusing. When the document does not receive a second date stamp from the clerk, there is nothing on the face of the appellate record to establish that the order was ever rendered." [The quoted language appears in both decisions, however, this was cut from the Wells Fargo decision.]

Also in both decisions, the court stated:
We also have concerns about the summary disposition of U.S. Bank’s motions. We are mindful of the significant workload faced by Florida’s trial judges, particularly with the flood of foreclosures inundating the court system and the staff reductions necessitated by budget shortfalls. Nonetheless, for an appellate court to provide meaningful review of a trial court order, particularly when the trial court possesses significant discretion, some indication of the reasons underlying the trial court’s ruling is helpful. “It is not the function of an appellate court to cull the underlying record in an effort to locate findings and underlying reasons which would support the order.” Jacques v. Jacques, 609 So. 2d 74, 75 (Fla. 1st DCA 1992). Here, the trial court’s “denied” stamp does not help us determine if the trial judge abused his discretion or not. Some basis for the ruling would be instructive both to the parties and this Court.


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