HCBA Lawyer Magazine Vol. 28, No. 4 | Page 17

Continued from page 14 This principle is well established, but not very well known. Florida’s appellate courts have long held that a trial court may not rehear or reconsider an order disposing of a motion for new trial. See Frazier v. Seaboard Sys. R.R., Inc., 508 So. 2d 345, 347 (Fla. 1987); State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Miller, 688 So. 2d 935, 935 (Fla. 4th DCA 1997); Lee v. Elliott, 155 So. 2d 169, 170 (Fla. 3d DCA 1963). The same applies to orders disposing of motions for remittitur or additur. See Salkay v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 398 So. 2d 916, 917 (Fla. 3d DCA 1981). And although trial courts have the inherent authority to reconsider any interlocutory ruling before entry of final judgment, that does not apply to orders disposing of motions for new trial because they are not interlocutory in nature. See id.; Frazier, 508 So. 2d at 347; Huffman, 341 So. 2d at 269. Filing a motion to rehear or reconsider an order ruling on a motion for new trial can easily become a procedural trap — and cost your client the right to appeal. Because such a motion is not authorized, it will not toll the time to appeal if an appealable judgment or order has already been entered. See Frazier, 508 So. 2d at 347; Owens, 476 So. 2d at 265. As a result, attorneys who are unfamiliar with this rule could allow the 30-day deadline for filing a notice of appeal to expire, under the mistaken belief that the period won’t begin running until the trial court disposes of the motion for reconsideration. See Reilly v. Hyster Co., 307 So. 2d 202, 202-03 (Fla. 4th DCA 1975). That typically happens when the motion for reconsideration is denied. Another kind of procedural trap arises when the unauthorized motion for reconsideration is granted. Then the moving party, thinking it has obtained the relief it wanted, could forego appealing from the original judgment or order — only to have it reinstated when the appellate court reverses the order granting the motion for reconsideration. See Pompano Atlantis Condo. Ass’n, Inc. v. Merlino, 415 So. 2d 153, 154-55 (Fla. 4th DCA 1982); Volumes in Value, Inc. v. By Mail Int’l, Inc., 177 So. 2d 511, 512 (Fla. 3d DCA 1965). By then, it will be too late to appeal. In a way, the plaintiff in Gustavsson was lucky. Because the final judgment was not entered until after his motion for reconsideration was denied, he was still able to appeal — and he won a partial reversal of the denial of his original motion for additur. Other cases have not turned out so well, so beware the procedural trap of moving for reconsideration of an order granting or denying a motion for new trial. See Ari Fitzgerald, Don’t Lose Your Appeal Over This Procedural Trap, The Hillsborough County Bar Association Lawyer, Jan. – Feb. 2017, at 16-17. 1 Author: Shea Moxon – Brannock & Humphries MAR - APR 2018 | HCBA LAWYER 15