Supreme Court amends Rules of Civil Procedure

first_imgMost of the two-year cycle rule changes recommended by the Civil Procedure Rules Committee have been approved by the Florida Supreme Court, including one generally limiting the requests for admission to 30. That amendment, though, produced a dissent by two justices.Other changes affect making claims for punitive damages, discovery, and the deletion of a rule and form related to a judicial waiver on notifying a parent of an abortion.The justices acted October 23 in Amendments to the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure (Two-Year Cycle) and Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.110, case no. SC03-161.On the requests for admission, the opinion noted the committee felt that restricting the requests to 30 would limit abuses. The new rule allows the parties to agree to exceed that number, or for one party to seek judicial permission for a higher number.“[T]he amendment to rule 1.370(a) still permits requests for admissions to serve their discovery purpose and narrow the issues for trial,” the per curiam opinion said. “requiring parties to be more selective in submitting requests for admissions, we believe that the amendment will address abusive practices without diminishing the purpose of the rule.”Justice Fred Lewis wrote a separate opinion, agreeing with the other changes but dissenting on the requests for admission. Chief Justice Harry Lee Anstead concurred with Lewis’ opinion.Lewis noted that the committee, in its justification for the change, said it would correct a perceived problem in using the requests for discovery or as an improper method of proving the elements of a case. He said that numerous Florida Bar CLE courses had touted the rule as a way to aid discovery and speed litigation.“I must conclude that the purported justification for this needless limitation upon a time-honored, recognized method of advancing a controverted action to judgment is illogical and nonsensical,” Lewis wrote. “I suggest that it is most unusual to condemn the use of requests for admissions as a discovery practice when that is one of the precise reasons for the existence of such provision.”Among the changes approved by the court are:• Amending subdivision (f) of rule 1.190 to allow a party to amend a pleading to assert a claim for punitive damages. The court, though, modified the committee’s mandate to submit supporting evidence with the motion to require “a reasonable showing.” The court noted the committee’s language would require the completion of discovery before the motion was filed. The opinion added, though, that “[T]his clarification does not alter the committee’s intent of requiring the motion and the supporting evidence or proffer to be served on all parties at least 20 days before the hearing.”• Amending Rule 1.380(c) which allows a judge to award expenses and attorneys’ fees when an opposing party has failed to admit the genuineness of a document or the truth of a matter. Under the revision, the judge can award the costs when the requesting party proves the genuineness or truth rather than wait until the end of the trial.• Declining the committee’s proposed amendment to Rule 1.442(c) on settlements among multiple parties alleged to be vicariously, constructively, derivatively, or technically liable. “We find that this proposal should not be adopted in light of recent case law from this court,” the opinion said, referring to Willis Shaw Express Inc., v. Hilyer Sod, Inc., 28 Fla L. Weekly S225 (Fla. March 13, 2003).• Excising Rule 1.840 on Judicial Waiver of Parental Notice of Abortion and its related form from the rule. The court said the committee had proposed editorial changes, but the justices noted that in North Florida Women’s Health & Counseling Services, Inc. v. State, 28 Fl. L. Weekly S549 (Fla. July 10, 2003), the court had held unconstitutional the state law on which the rule and form were based.The complete text of the opinion, along with the revised rules, is available on the court’s Web site at Supreme Court amends Rules of Civil Procedure Supreme Court amends Rules of Civil Procedurecenter_img November 15, 2003 Regular Newslast_img

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