WEST PALM BEACH — The Fourth District of the District Court of Appeal of the State Florida ruled in favor of a Florida woman in a foreclosure case, according to an April 19 opinion.
The appeals court overturned a decision from the Circuit Court for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, Broward County when it agreed with Judy Held that the lower court was incorrect in approving a move by U.S. Bank National Association to toss out a previous dismissal under the notion that there was a “lack of prosecution.”
The court upheld Held's case, saying that the circuit court should not have ruled in favor of the bank because there was “no activity within the first sixty days of the court’s notice of lack of prosecution."
The bank initially filed the foreclosure against Held in 2009. The following year Held filed a response. Two years later, the borrower moved to “amend” the borrower’s responses. Between 2011 and 2013, there was no more activity. As a result, a judge issued a lack of prosecution order July 30, 2013.
The judge warned the bank that if there was no activity within the first 60 days, the case would be tossed out under the Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.420(e). The only way to avoid this is if the bank proved “good cause” at least five days before the hearing with the valid reason of why the judge should allow the case to continue. The good cause order was issued on Aug. 30, 2013, and the hearing was scheduled for Oct. 15, 2013.
The bank waited until four days before the hearing to inform the judge that it switched attorneys in mid-August. It hoped this was enough for the judge not to dismiss the case, according to court documents.
Another discrepancy came when two different judges appeared to sign two different orders on Oct. 15, 2013. One judge decided to dismiss the case while the other did not. There was no transcript available to verify either order, records state. A third judge sided with the bank and granted its motion to vacate the dismissal. Held subsequently filed an order of her own with the district court to overturn that ruling.
The appeals court vacated the bank’s motion for dismissal and agreed with the borrower, stating the Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.420(e)(2013) that speaks to the 60-day discrepancy and five-day good cause regulation.