Fourth DCA Overturns Denial of Summary Judgment Motion After Verdict and Damages Awarded

The Fourth District Court of Appeal (“DCA”) recently reversed a lower court’s denial of the defendant’s motion for summary judgment even though the case subsequently went to trial and the plaintiff obtained a favorable judgment. In overturning the trial court’s decision, the Court held that where the material facts are not disputed and the denial of summary judgment is based on the resolution of a purely legal question, a decision is appealable after final judgment.

The case, Ioannides v. Romagosa, 2012 WL 2813833 (Fla. 4th DCA July 11, 2012), grew out of an employment dispute between two dermatologists. Dr. Ioannides ran a successful practice throughout the Treasure Coast and recruited Dr. Romagosa to open a satellite office in Stuart with the expectation that Dr. Romagosa would become a partner after three years. The doctors entered into a written employment agreement with specific provisions regarding Dr. Romagosa’s base salary and production bonus. After the working relationship eroded, Dr. Romagosa sued Dr. Ioannides, alleging breach of the employment agreement and fraudulent inducement. Dr. Ioannadis moved for summary judgment, arguing that the claim for fraudulent inducement failed as a matter of law. The trial court denied the motion, and the case proceeded to judgment for Dr. Romagosa. The defendant appealed to the Fourth DCA.

Although the Fourth DCA acknowledged that a party may not challenge the denial of a motion for summary judgment after a judgment is entered where the motion is denied for evidentiary reasons, there is a distinction between motions denied for evidentiary reasons and motions that are denied based on the court’s interpretation of the law. In reaching its conclusion, the Fourth DCA relied on a 2011 Supreme Court case, Ortiz v. Jordan, 131 S. Ct. 884 (2011), as well as several federal circuit courts.

Led by Partner Edward G. Guedes, our Appellate Practice Group handles dozens of appeals generated by our trial practice and also serve as appellate counsel for outside litigators.  The Group  works extensively with our Litigation Division to ensure that all aspects of each case are adequately examined.  The Group successfully advocates regularly before the Florida Supreme Court, all of the Florida district courts of appeal and the appellate divisions of Florida’s twenty judicial circuits, in addition to the United States Circuit Courts of Appeals, the United States Supreme Court and appellate courts in numerous other jurisdictions.

You can read a copy of the Fourth DCA’s opinion here.

Categories: LitigationAppellate Law & PracticeCivil Procedure
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Author(s): Brooke P. Dolara