On Dec. 31, 2020, the Florida Supreme Court altered the litigation landscape in Florida when it amended the summary judgment standard to align with that “of the federal courts and of the supermajority of states” in the nation. The court amended Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.510 to adopt the summary judgment standard first articulated by the U.S. Supreme Court in Celotex v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317 (1986). The amended rule goes into effect on May 1, 2021.
The court amended Rule 1.510 on its own motion, but the impetus was Wilsonart v. Lopez, 2019 WL 5188546 (Fla. Oct. 15, 2019). Wilsonart concerned a deadly trucking accident where video footage from the truck’s dash camera clearly showed that the truck driver was not negligent. The trial court granted summary judgment based on the video evidence, but the Fifth District Court of Appeal reversed it. The appellate court read the existing rule to require denial of summary judgment “if the record raises the slightest doubt that material issues could be present.” It certified the case to the Florida Supreme Court as one of great importance.
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