“Final” Judgment While Appeal Pending is Void

On a petition for certiorari filed by a non-party challenging a post-judgment discovery order, the Second District Court of Appeal has provided us with some great language on what constitutes a void judgment. In Gibson v. Progress Bank of Florida, No. 2D10-4137 (Fla. 2d DCA Feb. 23, 2011)[.pdf], the court decided what should be a fairly obvious point — that a final judgment entered while an interlocutory appeal is pending is outside the jurisdiction of the trial court and therefore void. This proposition comes directly out of Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.130(f), which states:

In the absence of a stay, during the pendency of a review of a non-final order, the lower tribunal may proceed with all matters, including trial or final hearing; provided that the lower tribunal may not render a final order disposing of the cause pending such review.

(emphasis by Court).

A final summary judgment, all parties agreed, “constitutes a final order disposing of the cause.” The Court held, therefore, that the judgment was null and void, explaining:

A void judgment is “[a] judgment that has no legal force or effect, the invalidity of which may be asserted by any party whose rights are affected at any time and any place, whether directly or collaterally…. It is incapable of being confirmed, ratified, or enforced in any manner or to any degree.”

Applying Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.560, the court concluded that there can be no discovery in aid of execution of a void judgment. Moreover, applying the general discovery rules applicable to pending actions, the court held that discovery from the Petitioners under those rules was irrelevant prior to judgment. Quashing the discovery order, the court concluded “because the final judgment is void, the Petitioners would suffer irreparable harm if forced to disclose their personal financial information.”

2 replies
  1. Kathy Holmes
    Kathy Holmes says:

    Dear Ms. Wasylik,

    This ARTICLE was extremely eye-opening for me as I am PRAYING that it applies to my case. If you have the time to contact me, my gratitude would be unlimited. If you knew what I’ve been through (and I’ll spare you the painful details) you would understand why I would be amazed and thrilled if this piece of the law applies to my case.

    Thank you!
    Kathy H.

  2. Dineen
    Dineen says:

    I am glad you found the article helpful. I cannot give you situation-specific legal advice. You should consult a lawyer (or talk to the lawyer you already have) about this issue. The application of this case is narrow and I would not rely upon this blog post to assume your judgment is void. Best of luck to you.

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