WEST PALM BEACH, Florida – A Florida
lawyer has won an appeal after being barred from arguing a motion by a Palm Beach County
Lawyer Jeff Tomberg of Boynton Beach
was representing plaintiffs Dorothy and William Natiello in a slip-and-fall suit against Winn-Dixie Stores.
On the day of the hearing, Tomberg
had arrived at the scheduled time, but left for a bathroom break
after noticing that the defense lawyer was not present at the time.
After returning to the courtroom a few minutes later, the judge and
defense lawyer were wrapping up the hearing, with the judge noting
that Tomberg had not filed a memorandum in response to the defense's
summary judgment motion.
On Nov. 16, Florida's Fourth
District Court of Appeal ruled in Tomberg's favor, citing that the
Palm Beach County judge abused his discretion when he refused to
allow Tomberg to argue the motion and granted the summary judgment to
Tomberg's opponent. Reasons for which the appeals court cited that the
judge abused his discretion include the fact that Tomberg was only a
few minutes late, and that Tomberg “offered a patently reasonable
explanation for his tardy appearance.” This resulted in the
three-judge panel reversing the trial judge's decision and remanding
the case for a new summary judgment hearing.
Tomberg, who is a board certified
civil trial lawyer with 39 years of experience, spoke with the
Florida Record to express his satisfaction with the result of the
“I was surprised that the judge
denied rehearing, but I ended up prevailing on the appeal.” said
Tomberg when asked if the initial decision of the judge surprised
Tomberg also told the Florida Record
that similar situations do not often happen, saying, “It doesn't
happen very often at all. It has happened only a couple of times, but
Tomberg expressed satisfaction with
the decision of the appeals court. “The appeals court basically
said that I was entitled to have a hearing on the merit, and I think
that's good law.” Tomberg said.