Appellate Court Admonishes State Farm

In a recent opinion from Florida’s 5th District Court of Appeals, State Farm Insurance Company drew harsh criticism for their appellate practice behavior.

During the case, State Farm moved to strike an appellate answer brief from an appellants who were representing themselves by alleging that the appellant answer brief was filed ten days beyond the time limit set in the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure. The appellant, not taking the State Farm’s motion lightly, filed a response and detailed his compliance with the applicable time limits specified in Fla.R.App.P. 9.210(f), which governs the time limits for filing and applicable extensions.

The 5th DCA found that when applying the rules correctly the apellant’s answer brief was filed timely and that State Farm had in fact filed a meritless motion to strike. The court went on to state that State Farm’s failure to withdraw the motion when the response clearly showed the answer brief to be timely filed resulted in an unnecessary burden on court staff, the judges, and the appellant. Further, the court ruled that “in addition to not filing a meritless motion, an attorney also has a professional responsibility to withdraw a motion when its lack of merit is made clear.” Lopez v. State Farm Fla. Ins. Co. So.3d, 37 FLW D1728 (Fla. 5th DCA 2012).