Calendar Carefully: Excusable Neglect

Repeat after the Eleventh Circuit:

“The timely filing of a notice of appeal is a mandatory prerequisite to the exercise of appellate jurisdiction.”

(citation omitted).

Sure, there’s an out in Federal Court. You can ask the trial court for an enlargement of time to file the notice of appeal — if you can demonstrate excusable neglect or good cause. But in a recent unpublished opinion, the Eleventh Circuit upheld the trial court’s denial of such a motion, noting that:

miscalendaring a deadline was within the reasonable control of the Plaintiff, and that the “cumulative effect” of the Plaintiff’s missed deadlines exhibited an absence of good faith

The moral of the story: Don’t ever rely on a Rule 4(a)(5)(A)(ii) motion to extend the time to file a notice of appeal. The bar for establishing “excusable neglect or good cause” is a moving target, and review of the trial court’s decision on such a motion is on an abuse of discretion standard. So don’t mess around with your calendaring!

The case is Global Horizons Inc. v. Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A., Inc., No. 09-16508 (11th Cir. Aug. 17, 2010) [.pdf].

Order Setting Aside Settlement Not Reviewable

In a short and sweet opinion, the First DCA has ruled that an order denying a party’s request to enforce a mediated settlement and instead setting it aside because it was signed under duress is not an appealable final order. The opinion in Pierce v. Pierce, No. 1D10-1872 (Fla. 1st DCA Sept. 7, 2010) [.pdf] isn’t very helpful to practitioners trying to understand why this is so. But just think about it: if the settlement is set aside, then the case is not finally adjudicated; there is more judicial labor to be done before there is a final order. So really, this isn’t too surprising. But it does stink for the party who thought the case was over and now has to continue litigating.

Trial Court’s Mandamus Reviewable

If a trial court’s stay order maintains the status quo, can the order be reviewed under Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.130? Or, in plain English, is an injunction by any other name still a reviewable injunction? The Third DCA says yes.

In City of Sunny Isles Beach v. Temple B’Nai Zion, Inc., No. 3D10-1137 (Sept. 8, 2010) [.pdf], the city and the Temple are wrangling over whether the Temple can demolish its existing building to make way for a new one, or whether the city can prevent demolition by naming the Temple a historic site. The trial court issued a “writ of mandamus” that ordered the city not to designate the property as an historic site while the case proceeded. The City appealed, and the Court answered the threshhold question — whether the “writ” was an appealable non-final order — in the affirmative.

Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.130(a)(3)(B) allows district courts of appeal to review “the non-final orders authorized herein”, including those that:

(B) grant, continue, modify, deny, or dissolve injunctions, or refuse to modify or dissolve injunctions;

So is a “mandamus” an injunction? It is when its purpose serves the same purpose as an injunction:

However, “[t]he very purpose of a temporary injunction is to preserve the status quo in order to prevent irreparable harm from occurring before a dispute is resolved. The Order in this case, by preserving the status quo … clearly constituted a temporary injunction.”

(citation omitted). Once framed as an injunction for review purposes, the court went on to explain that the order should also be reviewed as an injunction, and thus must comply with Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.610. It didn’t, and the Court therefore held the order to be an abuse of discretion.