Are You Ready to Declare Your Rights? – A Helpful Note on Premature Declaratory Actions

Florida law provides courts with the power to declare your rights, powers, privileges, immunities, certain facts, and their existence either today or arising in the future. § 86.011, Fla. Stat. (2018). This is clear under Florida’s Declaratory Judgment Act. Id.

However, as the Florida appellate courts made plain again this year, anybody seeking a declaration of rights in court must also show that there is a present and immediate need for the declaration. In other words, the party must show that the circumstances in his or her life have come to such a point that a court’s intervention is immediately necessary. This is a question of ripeness.

The Florida Second District Court of Appeal recently confirmed that ripeness is a prudential principal, requiring claimants to demonstrate that they have received some final decision on the right, status, privilege, property, fact, or immunity at issue. Golfrock v. Lee County, 247 So. 3d 37, 39 (Fla. 2d DCA 2018). The Supreme Court has explained the necessity of having a final decision; it informs whether the claimant has been truly deprived of some right, property, expectation, or otherwise that requires a court declaration. See Palazzolo v. Rhode Island, 533 U.S. 606, 618 (2001). These matters cannot be resolved in definitive terms until a court knows the extent of the right, privilege, immunity, or issue in question. Id.

This ripeness requirement helps Florida courts avoid determining abstract questions or premature inquiries as to whether a lawsuit can ultimately be made on different claims. Golfrock at 39. Thus, it is key for any claimant to provide allegations and argument as to the ripeness and maturity of its request for declaratory judgment, in the complaint itself. Id.

If you have questions about filing a claim for declaratory judgment or to seek determination of your rights, please contact Bernhard Law Firm at 786-871-3349, www.bernhardlawfirm.com, abernhard@bernhardlawfirm.com. Please also see other helpful articles on declaratory judgments here:

Resolving Disputes Through Declaratory Relief: Your Primer to Florida’s Declaratory Judgment Act

Bernhard Law Firm

 

 

 

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