Over the past three years, the Florida Supreme Court has been reshaping state court civil practice to conform to federal practice. This began in 2019 with the adoption of Daubert as the standard for the admission of expert testimony. This was followed recently by the revision of Rule 1.510 to conform summary judgment practice to the movant-friendly federal procedure.
Now, pursuant to recommendations of a Supreme Court workgroup, we are on the cusp of adopting significant civil rule changes that will further advance the federalization of Florida civil practice. If adopted these rule changes will include:
- Case Management Orders: Federal courts have long used early case management orders to impose discovery and motion filing deadlines and to set a trial date. This may become the norm in Florida state court civil practice. Trials may be set even if the case is not at issue.
- Initial Disclosures: In state court practice an exchange of documents between the parties is triggered by the service of a request for production. At least that’s the way it has been. In federal civil practice the parties are obligated to make an initial disclosure of persons with knowledge regarding the issues as well as a disclosure of documents and items supporting the parties’ contentions. Mandatory initial disclosures will become the norm if the rule changes are adopted
- Discovery and Disclosure Supplementation: Per Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.280(f) practitioners are not obligated to supplement discovery responses if the responses were complete when made. Per the proposed rule changes counsel will now be obligated to periodically supplement discovery responses as well as the initial mandatory disclosures.
These proposed changes are part of the set of comprehensive rule changes being proposed by the Judicial Management Council Workgroup on Improved Resolution of Civil Cases that issued its final report on November 15, 2021. Download the proposals here. The above only scratches the surface of the changes coming. These proposed rule changes again underscore the importance of “front loading” a case i.e. doing the necessary investigation and research before filing the complaint. Here are my previous thoughts on that topic. Get ready.