Friday, February 22, 2013

Second District Certifies Conflict Regarding Jurisdiction To Review Partial Final Judgments

In Universal Underwriters Insurance Co. v. Stathopoulos (2D12-2412, 2D12-3606), the Second District granted a motion to dismiss, concluding that review of the partial final judgment appealed would constitute improper piecemeal review. The court certified conflict to the Florida Supreme Court.

In the case, an underlying lawsuit relating to a car accident had been resolved. The second lawsuit ws described as follows:

In the subsequent lawsuit underlying this appeal, Ms.Stathopoulos and Western General filed a three-count amended complaint againstUniversal for declaratory relief and for breach of contract and bad faith for Universal'sfailure to defend and indemnify the driver in the wrongful death lawsuit. The order onappeal declares that the driver was an insured under Universal's policy and notes thatthe other two counts remain pending.

After discussing its jurisdiction and the various rules, the Second District stated:

Because the amended complaint reflects that the three counts are based on the samefacts and are intertwined, we conclude that allowing an appeal of the declaratory countat this stage would foster impermissible piecemeal review. See Mendez v. W. FlaglerFamily Ass'n, 303 So. 2d 1, 5 (Fla. 1974).

After concluding jurisdiction as a final order or non-final order was inappropriate and that it did not have certiorari jurisdiction, the Second District dismissed the consolidated appeals. However, they also certified conflict to the Florida Supreme Court which was included in a footnote. The issue certified is below:

We note that other courts have resolved appeals in similar postures under rule 9.110(m) or Reed, albeit without explicit jurisdictional analysis. See, e.g., Wilshire Ins. Co. v. Birch Crest Apartments, Inc., 69 So. 3d 975 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011); Am. Reliance Ins. Co. v. Perez, 712 So. 2d 1211 (Fla. 3d DCA 1998). To the extent that the present case is in conflict with these decisions, we certify the conflict. We reach the same conclusion as did the First District in Mercury Insurance Co. of Florida v. Markham, 938 So. 2d 607 (Fla. 1st DCA 2006), although by a somewhat different analysis.