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Florida Fifth DCA remands for further fact finding where complaint was date stamped by court clerk after statute of limitation expired but allegedly was received by clerk on expiration date.

On November 3, 2017, in Mansfield v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, No. 5D16-1826, the Florida Fifth DCA reversed the trial court’s summary judgment for the defendant on statute of limitations grounds and remanded the case to the trial court for further fact-finding. The trial court’s ruling was based on the court clerk's date stamping of the complaint three days after the expiration of the statute of limitations. However, the plaintiff filed an affidavit that the complaint and the filing fee had in fact been delivered to the clerk’s office on the expiration date, and provided an “official clerk receipt” as proof of the date of payment. The delay in the official filing date appears to have resulted from the law firm’s check having been made out incorrectly to the wrong county clerk, a mistake that was remedied on the official filing date of the complaint. The Fifth DCA cited the Florida Supreme Court’s decision in Strax Rejuvenation and Aesthetics Institute, Inc. v. Shield, 49 So. 3d 741, 745 (Fla. 2010) in support of the principle that the clerk’s date stamp merely creates a rebuttable presumption that can be overcome by the submission of competent substantial evidence that the complaint was received in the clerk’s office by the filing deadline. The Fifth DCA additionally noted that Black's Law Dictionary also defines "filing date" as being "the date when any document is delivered to the appropriate authority." Black's Law Dictionary (10th ed. 2014). See also Brooks ex rel. McCook v. Elliott, 593 So. 2d 1209, 1210 (Fla. 5th DCA 1992) ([t]he filing of a complaint “is complete once the pleading is delivered to and received by the proper officer”).