Monday, March 07, 2005

Failure to Notify Appellate Court of Settlement & Sanctions – A Case of 1st Impression!

Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.350(a) provides:

Dismissal of Causes When Settled. When any cause pending in the court is settled before a decision on the merits, the parties shall immediately notify the court by filing a signed stipulation for dismissal.

In Merkle v. Guardianship of Jacoby, 2005 Fla. App. LEXIS 2232 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2005) the Second District Court of Appeal, in a case of first impression, sanctioned counsel for failing to immediately notify the court of the settlement of a pending case before the court’s decision on the merits which occurred more than a year prior to the decision.

Among counsel’s reasons for not complying with the rule were that the settlement was conditioned on a collateral agreement [so what!], that he was continuing with the appeal to gain a perceived advantage in other unrelated matters [this is really bad!], and that he was inexperienced in appellate matters [this helped a little].

Among the consequences of the above failure to comply the the rule is the Second District Court of Appeal's order in the same case denying a Motion to Vacate its prior ruling based on the legal principle that the “cat is out of the bag”.

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