In the civil litigation (which includes insurance, injury, and family law cases) world, litigants often ask whether they are allowed, or can be afforded, a new hearing. Many litigants have heard of appeals, but most are not experienced with the technicalities of a rehearing.
Typically, there are two common approaches in asking the court for a second opportunity to present their case. The first is governed by the Rule 1.530 of the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure and is referred to as a Motion for Rehearing. Motions for Rehearing come with time demands and the rule provides that a motion for rehearing must be served no later than 10 days after the date of the filing of the judgment in a nonjury action. The word judgment in the rule is specific as motions for rehearing of nonfinal orders are not authorized by the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure.
The second approach is similar but different and involves the trial court’s inherent authority to reconsider and alter or retract orders prior to the entry of a final judgment. In this scenario the word “judgment” is also key. Meaning that, rather than establishing a basis for a motion for rehearing under Rule 1.530, a motion directed to a nonfinal order would be done as a motion for reconsideration.
A motion for reconsideration is grounded in common law, as opposed to the rules of civil procedure, and case law establishes that judicial discretion will always allow a trial court to modify or rescind a ruling prior to a final judgment as long as there is sufficient grounds. Additionally, because a motion for reconsideration is not governed by the rules of civil procedure there is no strict timing requirement other than having said request made prior a final judgment being entered.
Moving a court for a rehearing or reconsideration can be a complicated process and if not done correctly can expose litigants to future ramifications. As such it is highly recommend that each party speak with or retain counsel to ensure their best interests are protected.