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Florida Third DCA rules that trial court prematurely granted summary judgment for defendant in wrongful death case

On December 23, 2020, in Benavides, et al, v. Medina, et al., No. 3D20-10, the Florida Third DCA reversed a trial court’s summary judgment for one of the defendants in a wrongful death case.  The trial court had denied the plaintiffs’ motion for a continuance of the summary judgment hearing to allow them to depose two key witnesses to the motor vehicle accident.  The Third DCA noted that the plaintiffs had filed an affidavit of their attorney explaining the problems in deposing one defendant, who was incarcerated, and an eyewitness, who, after the accident, left the country temporarily to study abroad and then left the State to attend college. Citing Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.510(f), which specifically allows parties to obtain a continuance of a summary judgment hearing “to permit affidavits to be obtained or depositions to be taken or discovery to be had,” the Third DCA concluded that the plaintiffs adequately met the requirements of the Rule and reversed the summary judgment as premature.