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Time Matters: Don’t Lose Your Legal Rights Due To Erroneous Time Computation

The computation of time under the law is not something trivial that should ever be overlooked. There are strict deadlines under the law, and appellate courts are continuously merciless for a party’s failure to timely comply with the deadlines, regardless of the consequent result.

This principle was recently reiterated in H Greg Auto Pompano, Inc. v. Ruskin, 2020 WL 7379125 (Fla. 3d DCA December 16, 2020). To invoke the jurisdiction of the court to award appellate attorneys’ fees, the party seeking attorneys’ fees must timely file a motion pursuant to Fla.R.App.P. 9.400(b), i.e. thirty days after service of the answer brief. In H Greg, the answer brief was electronically transmitted through the Florida Courts E-Filing Portal System. Although docketed on Monday, April 20, 2020, the clerk's electronic stamp reflected the brief was received, hence filed, on Sunday, April 19, 2020. Consequently, utilizing April 19, 2020 as the date to begin the computation of time, the thirty-day time limit for filing the motion for attorneys’ fees expired on Tuesday, May 19, 2020. When the party filed its motion for attorneys’ fees the following day on May 20, 2020, the appellate court ruled it was untimely and struck the motion depriving the moving party of any attorneys’ fees in the appeal.

This case is a reminder of the importance of always being cognizant of and compliant with deadlines under the law. Rosenthal Law Group can assist you with determining and ensuring your compliance with all deadlines provided for under the law.