Thursday, November 17, 2011

Trial Court Loses Jurisdiction After Judgment Entered - Order Enforcing Settlement Agreement Quashed

In HSBC Bank USA, N.A. v. Reed (1D10-6209), the First District quashed an order entered by the Circuit Court enforcing a settlement agreement. In this mortgage foreclosure case, "trial court entered a final judgment in mortgage foreclosure in favor of Appellant, which included an award of attorney's fees and costs....Twenty days after the entry of the final judgment...the trial court entered an order purportedly requiring post-judgment mediation. During the post-judgment mediation, the parties signed what is now the disputed Settlement Agreement."

"Appellees filed a Motion to Enforce Settlement Agreement, asserting that the parties reached a final settlement at the mediation conference and that the proposed Modification Agreement deviated from the parties' Settlement Agreement on a number of terms." Ultimately, the trial court granted the motion to enforce the settlement agreement.

The First District concluded:
Although not raised by either party, the Order On Motion To Enforce Settlement, entered after entry of the final judgment, is not a valid order. “Once a final judgment has been rendered and the time for filing a petition for rehearing or motion for new trial has passed the court loses all jurisdiction over the cause other than to see that proper entry of the judgment or decree is made and the rights determined and fixed by it are properly enforced.” Seddon v. Harpster, 438 So. 2d 165, 168 (Fla. 5th DCA 1983); see also Pruitt v. Brock, 437 So. 2d 768, 772-773 (Fla. 1st DCA 1983) (holding that "'[i]t is the established law of this state that a trial court loses jurisdiction of a case at the expiration of the time for filing a petition for rehearing . . .'") (citation omitted)). Although from the record it appears that the trial court was attempting to correct the parties" failure to attend mandatory mediation, it was without jurisdiction to issue the order requiring post-judgment mediation and the Order On Motion To Enforce Settlement Agreement, because it had not vacated the final judgment entered on June 9, 2010.


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