St. Thomas Law Review

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Florida litigators, who are familiar with the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, should not be surprised that the prescribed, controlling procedural rule to be followed as well as for a Florida state trial court to adjudicate a motion for summary judgment ("MSJ") is presumptively set forth within Rule 1.510 of the modem-day Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. The current rule expressly provides, in material part, "the judgment sought must be rendered immediately if the pleadings and summary judgment evidence on file show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. As such, the MSJ movant must carry a greater burden than the burden which the plaintiff must carry at trial, which is to demonstrate a negative or the absence of a genuine issue of any material fact, as well as entitlement to a judgment as a matter of law. Most Florida litigators may also be aware that Florida's summary judgment procedures were not available before the early 1950s, and motions for summary judgment were a relatively newfound legal phenomenon post Lomas v. W Palm Beach Water Co., 57 So. 2d 881 (Fla. 1952). Thus, Florida common law jurisprudence concerning MSJs has essentially evolved over the past sixty-five years. Accordingly, the instant article explores the requirements of Rule 1.510 concerning motions for summary judgment, including its substantially-similar federal counterpart, the origin and evolution of the Florida common law heavier burden rule on MSJs, Florida's applicable common law jurisprudence and, ironically, a prognosticated decision for the Supreme Court of Florida, if the Supreme Court was squarely faced with the common law heavier burden rule on a MSJ. A fortiori, it is appropriate to initiate the instant analysis with a review of the principles that dictate the methodology necessary to properly interpret and apply the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure.