The Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure designate all post-final judgment orders as “non-final” orders for purposes of an appeal. The Florida Rules of Civil Procedure only authorize motions for rehearing of “final orders”. Can a post-final judgment order simultaneously be a “final order” under the Rules of Civil procedure so that the trial court can rehear the matter, and be a “non-final order” under the Rules of Appellate Procedure, or is every post-final judgment order a “non-final order” which is not subject to rehearing? In the recent case of Popescu v. Laguna Master Association, Inc., 126 So.3d 449 (Fla.4th DCA 2013), the Court held that a post-final judgment order can be a “final order” under the Rules of Civil Procedure subject to a valid motion for rehearing, if it adjudicated separate and distinct rights of the parties that arose subsequent to the entry of the final judgment. Thus, such a “final order” is subject to rehearing by the trial court under the Rules of Civil Procedure even though the same order is classified as a “non-final order” under the Rules of Appellate Procedure.
In Popescu, a homeowner’s association obtained a final judgment of foreclosure on a claim of lien for unpaid assessments. However, after the final judgment of foreclosure had been entered but before the foreclosure sale occurred, the lot owner sold the lot to the buyer in a short sale transaction. The association was paid off (a redemption), but due to mistake, accident, or clerical error, the foreclosure sale was not canceled. The foreclosure sale was conducted by the Clerk of Court, the lot was sold to a third party bidder, and the certificate of title was issued.
Thereafter, the association requested the trial court to vacate the foreclosure sale and certificate of title based upon the redemption and mistake. The trial court denied the motion to vacate and the association requested the court to rehear the motion to vacate to correct the court’s erroneous ruling. The trial court reconsidered its denial of the motion to vacate, and set aside the order denying the motion to vacate and granted rehearing. The Appellate Court denied the foreclosure sale purchaser’s attempt to prevent the trial court from rehearing the motion to vacate. The Appellate Court held that because the redemption and mistake occurred after the final judgment was entered, the order denying the motion to vacate qualified as a “final order” under the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure and was subject to rehearing, notwithstanding the fact that is is classified as a “non-final order” under the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure.
[Note: Mr. Rubin successfully represented the Appellee Association on appeal in this reported Case. On remand, the trial court vacated the foreclosure sale and certificate of title based on the pre-sale exercise of the right of redemption (i.e., the right of redemption was exercised by the short sale purchaser when the short sale closed). See Popescu v. Laguna Master Association, Inc., 184 So.3d 1196 (Fla. 4th DCA 2016, rev. den. ___ So.3d ___(Fla. 2016).]