Florida’s Summary Judgment Standard

Florida law prohibits entry of summary judgment if there is any genuine issue of material fact whatsoever or any question as to entitlement under applicable law. Gorrin v. Poker Run Acquisitions, Inc., 237 So. 3d 1149, 1155 (Fla. 3d DCA 2018) (rev’g summary judgment where factual issue existed whether transfer was fraudulently made with intent to protect assets).

In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the Court must review the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and if the slightest doubt exists, then summary judgment cannot stand. Alvarez-Mejia v. Bellissimo Properties, LLC, 208 So. 3d 797, 799 (Fla. 3d DCA 2016) (rev’g summary judgment where trial court placed substantial weight on one estimate of damages and disregarded the revised estimate).

It is well established that the Court may not adjudge the credibility of witnesses or weigh the evidence. Gorrin at 1155. If there exist conflicts in testimony, the resolution of those conflicts must be left for the trier of fact. Gorrin at 1155.

The party moving for summary judgment bears the burden of demonstrating the non-existence of any genuine issue of material fact and entitlement under applicable law. Siegel v. Tower Hill Signature Ins. Co., 225 So. 3d 974, 975 (Fla. 3d DCA 2017) (rev’g summary judgment where factual issues existed). It is axiomatic that summary judgment may not be granted unless the moving party is able to show that no genuine issue of material fact exists. Holl v. Talcott, 191 So. 2d 40, 43–44 (Fla. 1966) (reversing on holding that summary judgment was premature prior to completion of discovery); Mechaia Invs., LLC v. Romano, 56 So. 3d 107, 109 (Fla. 3d DCA 2011) (reversing on holding that movant had not shown that no genuine issue of material fact existed); Payne v. Cudjoe Gardens Prop. Owners Ass’n, Inc., 837 So. 2d 458, 461 (Fla. 3d DCA 2002) (reversing on holding that summary judgment was premature prior to completion of discovery).

Further, the moving party bears the burden of refuting all affirmative defenses, and Florida law prohibits entry of summary judgment where Plaintiff has not effectively refuted all affirmative defenses with plaintiff affidavits and other admissible evidence. Calarese v. Weissfisch, 87 So. 3d 1225, 1227 (Fla. 3d DCA 2012) (rev’g summary judgment where movant failed to conclusively refute defendant’s affirmative defenses); Johnson & Kirby, Inc. v. Citizens Nat’l Bank of Ft. Lauderdale, 338 So. 2d 905, 906 (Fla. 3d DCA 1976) (rev’g summary judgment for failure to controvert all affirmative defenses).

The burden of proving the absence of any genuine issue of material fact is entirely upon the party moving for summary judgment; until the movant meets this burden, the opposing party is under no obligation whatsoever to show that issues do remain to be tried. Holl at 43.

If you have questions about Florida’s standards for summary judgment, please contact Bernhard Law Firm at www.bernhardlawfirm.com, abernhard@bernhardlawfirm.com, 786-871-3349.

Bernhard Law Firm


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