Upcoming Changes to Florida’s Civil Procedure Rules: What Litigators and their Clients Need to Know


Last week, the Florida Supreme Court released two opinions [here and here] announcing changes to its rules of civil procedure in an attempt “to promote the fair and timely resolution of civil cases.” The amendments are broad and apply to many aspects of case management, scheduling, and discovery. Thus, Florida practitioners will want to familiarize themselves with the new variants before they go into effect on January 1, 2025. The following discussion highlights a subset of the changes that appear most likely to have an impact throughout a case’s lifetime.

Litigators will feel the impact right from the jump. While the current rules permit the courts more leeway when scheduling deadlines, the newly re-written Rule 1.200 will give courts 120 days to assign each case to one of three case management tracks—complex, general, or streamlined. The court may customize the process according to its needs, but the judge must set an actual or projected trial period according to the specified case management track. These buffed requirements will provide litigants with clearer expectations in their case’s timeline, and other changes work to ensure those dates—including trial—are delayed as little as possible. For example, under the modified Rule 1.200, attorneys must follow specific steps to modify case management deadlines, otherwise deadlines “must be strictly enforced unless changed by court order.” Moreover, one noteworthy change to Rule 1.460 provides that “motions to continue trial are disfavored and should be rarely granted and then only upon good cause shown.” [No. SC2023-0962 at 7–8.]

Next, practitioners eager to begin discovery after receiving case management deadlines will do well to note new standards outlined in Rule 1.280. There, the Court incorporated the federal scope of discovery language on proportionality. This change should bridge the gap between federal and state motion practice and allow attorneys to draw from a larger pool of case law to support their discovery motions.

The motion practice often accompanying discovery will change, too. The Court adopted an entirely new rule—Rule 1.202—which requires the parties to confer prior to filing non-dispositive motions. This is already a requirement under many local rules, but this may add some uniformity. The Supreme Court hopes this will aid in more efficient resolutions to controversies as well:

With a detailed certificate of conferral, the trial judge will be better positioned to address problems between the parties at a hearing. And given constraints on hearing time, parties are expected to confer and attempt to resolve the issues raised in a motion before reserving hearing time.

[No. SC2024-0662 at 2.]

Finally, the Court amended Rule 1.510 to require responses to motions for summary judgment within 60 days of service. Currently, the rules tie the response deadline to the motion’s hearing date.

Attorneys and their clients alike should be hopeful these amendments signal a more streamlined path to trial with fewer surprises despite the cramped dockets Florida judges carry. But it could mean more work for litigators on truncated deadlines. As one Florida Civil Procedure expert put it, “Attorneys have to be very attentive to these changes because they will impact every civil case . . . It will remain to be seen whether they will hasten the resolution of these cases.” Michael A. Mora, Litigator Workloads Could Spike Under Amended Civil Procedure Rules, ALM Law.com (May 24, 2024), https://www.law.com/dailybusinessreview/2024/05/24/litigator-workloads-could-spike-under-amended-civil-procedure-rules (quoting Bruce Berman).

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About the Author: Andrew J. Koehler

Andrew Koehler counsels businesses that are facing mass tort and product liability risk. Andrew supports legal teams through research and helps draft filings for all phases of litigation.

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