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The New MSJ Rule: Its First Year In Review

Submitted by WLC on 03 Nov, 2022

We have been living with the new MSJ rule for more than a year.  Because of its impact on our practice, it is worth reviewing.  Below is a Top 10 list of the most important aspects of this rule:

  1. There are 2 sperate opinions establishing the new rule: In re Amends. to Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.510, 309 So.3d 192 (Fla. 2020); and In re Amends. to Fla. R. civ. P. 1.510, 317 So.3d 72 (Fla. 2021). Read them both.  Several times.
  2. The rule applies to any MSJ filed after May 1, 2021. If the motion was filed before, but not heard, the court should allow the parties to amend their motions to comply with the new rule.  If a MSJ was decided before the new change went into effect and the case is still pending, the court should give parties a reasonable opportunity to renew their MSJ.
  3. MSJ shall be decided based on the Celotex triology which is specifically referenced in the Court Notes to the Rule. Read all 3 cases.  Several times.
  4. There is a fundamental similarity between the summary judgment standard and the directed verdict standard.  Both standards focus on “whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury.”
  5. A moving party that does not bear the burden of persuasion at trial can obtain summary judgment without disproving the nonmovant’s case.
  6. The correct test for the existence of a genuine factual dispute is whether the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.
  7. Where federal rule 56(a)says that the court should state on the record its reasons for granting or denying a summary judgment motion, new rule 1.510(a) says that the court shall do so. The wording of the new rule makes clear that the court’s obligation in this regard is mandatory. To comply with this requirement, it will not be enough for the court to make a conclusory statement that there is or is not a genuine dispute as to a material fact. The court must state the reasons for its decision with enough specificity to provide useful guidance to the parties and, if necessary, to allow for appellate review.
  8. Remember the 40/20 rule. The movant must file its motion and supporting “factual position” 40 days before the hearing.  The non-movant must file its response that includes the non-movant’s “factual position”.
  9. Both the rule and the opinions support the granting of extensions or continuances to the non-movant if the non-movant has not been given “adequate time for discovery.”
  10. Read subsection f. of the new rule. It sets forth the judgements that can be entered independent of the MSJ after reasonable notice, which include: summary judgment for the non-movant, granting MSJ for the movant but on grounds not raised by the movant, and the court can consider summary judgment on its own.

Happy Birthday 1.510!