Florida Supreme Court Adopts Federal Summary Judgment Standard, Substantially Conforming Florida’s Rule 1.510 to Federal Rule 56

Lady law blindfolded holding scales of justice

Despite what appears to be clear-cut guidance from the Florida Supreme Court, it remains to be seen how lower Florida courts will interpret this new standard.

June 7, 2021
Lewis Brisbois

Effective May 1, 2021, the Florida courts will transition to a new summary judgment standard meant to “align Florida’s summary judgment standard with that of the federal courts and of the supermajority of states that have already adopted the federal summary judgment standard.” In re Amends. to Fla. Rule of Civ. Pro. 1.510, 309 So. 3d 192, 192 (Fla. 2020). Consistent with this amendment, Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.510 has been amended to adopt the federal summary judgment rule, with exceptions for timing-related issues. The Florida Supreme Court’s most recent opinion on rule 1.510 and the text of new rule 1.510 can be found here.

As background, on December 31, 2020, the Florida Supreme Court adopted the federal summary judgment standard by amending Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.510(c) to include the following sentence: “The summary judgment standard provided for in this rule shall be construed and applied in accordance with the federal summary judgment standard articulated in Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242 (1976); and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574 (1986) [(the ‘Celotex trilogy’)].” In re Amends. to Fla. Rule of Civ. Pro. 1.510, 309 So. 3d at 196. The court’s amendment was slated to take effect on May 1, 2021, subject to a public comment period. The court also sought guidance from the Florida Bar’s Civil Procedure Rules Committee. After careful consideration of numerous responses, the court ultimately chose to adopt the substance of the text from federal rule 56. Along with its amendments, the court provides substantial guidance as to how the Florida courts and practitioners should interpret the new rule. A summary of the court’s thorough discussion follows.



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