A Motion for New Trial in a Small Claims Action Must Be Filed Within Ten Days and Such a Motion Tolls the Rendition of the Order of the Trial Court Until Disposition of the Motion.

Arafat v. U-Haul Center Margate, 4D10-1179
June 22, 2011

The Fourth District addressed a writ of certiorari challenging a circuit court’s dismissal of an appeal as untimely. Arafat filed a complaint in small claims county court for $5,000 based on a statement of claim for items that were removed from her storage unit. The court entered judgment for the defendants on May 21, 2009. Arafat filed a motion for rehearing on June 1, 2009 but did not actually serve it until June 3, 2009.  The trial court denied the motion but ruled the denial would not take effect until September 1, 2009.  On September 24, 2009 Arafat filed a notice of appeal.  The defendants moved to dismiss the appeal, arguing that Arafat’s motion for rehearing was untimely and that because the judgment came from a nonjury trial, Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.530 mandates that a motion for rehearing be filed within ten days of the final judgment.  The circuit court agreed and dismissed the appeal.
On appeal, the Fourth District noted that Florida Small Claims Rule 7.180 provides that a motion for new trial must be filed within ten days. Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.530 provides that a motion for new trial or rehearing must be served within ten days. Because this case originated in small claims, and because the Florida Small Claims Rules do not incorporate Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.530, the Fourth District held that the motion for rehearing was timely. Florida Small Claims Rule 7.230 provides that appeals from small claims court shall be governed by the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure. Under Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.020(h), an authorized and timely motion for new trial or rehearing tolls rendition of the order of the trial court until disposition of the motion. The Fourth District quashed the dismissal of the appeal and remanded the case to be decided on the merits.