Just before trial starts, the Judge asks to see the file. She wants to review the Complaint and Answer. She takes a few minutes and then trial starts. Both sides waive opening statement – this is fairly common in foreclosure cases. After some brief preliminary questions, the Plaintiff seeks to move in the original note, indorsed in blank. I object – “it’s outside the scope of the pleadings. Plaintiff’s complaint, which was filed back in 2010, had no note attached and this was raised by the defense in the first answer, back in 2010 and TWO subsequent amended answers.” The Plaintiff’s attorney argued “as long as note is pled, they need not attach it to the complaint!” I remind the Judge of Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.130(a), titled “Instruments Attached.” It states, “[a]ll bonds, notes, bills of exchange, contracts, accounts, or documents upon which action may be brought or defense made, or a copy thereof or a copy of the portions thereof material to the pleadings, shall be incorporated in or attached to the pleading).” The Judge knew exactly what 1.130(a) stated and immediate said to the Plaintiff’s attorney, “I reviewed the pleadings just a few minutes ago and in 30 seconds I saw what you and your firm should have seen 4 years ago, and yet, you have done nothing to fix!”
The Plaintiff also never responded to or sought relief from our Request for Admissions(RFA) filed in 2010. I read out loud the key RFA’s into the record – “Plaintiff was not in possession of the note at inception of the lawsuit; Plaintiff did not have standing at inception; Plaintiff did not have the right to enforce the note.” There were a few others dealing with the Plaintiff’s failure to satisfy all conditions precedent to filing suit. I then approach and hand the Judge Professor Ehrhardt’s evidence book, turned to the pages addressing what he refers to as “judicial admissions.” No single author is more authoritative and accepted on the subject of evidence then Professor Ehrhardt. Every appellate court, including the Supreme Court of Florida has cited to him numerous times. I say, “judicial admissions are different from evidentiary admissions in that the former are uncontrovertible.” I also hand the Judge Florida Rule of Civil Procedure, 1.370(b) which states that matters which are not timely responded to are deemed admitted and are “conclusively established.” Plaintiff’s attorney stammers and admits she had no idea of this and disputes that RFAs were ever filed! I show her the docket entry which reflects that the RFAs were filing in 2010. Then, the Plaintiff’s attorney as part of her incoherent response says, “well the Defendant didn’t respond to the Plaintiff’s RFA’s either!” The only time I will interrupt opposing counsel in argument is when they state something as fact, which is just flat out not true. I don’t want them to taint the well and have me wind up in a mud fight. (In mud fights, both people have mud on their faces and no one knows who started it.) So, I cut her off immediate and say, “Judge, we got in this case in October of 2014. We saw that Defendant’s prior counsel had not responded some RFAs propounded to the Defendant. We immediately filed a motion seeking relief from those admissions, attaching proposed responses and we then quickly obtained an order granting such relief and deeming our responses timely filed. Plaintiff should have done the same!” Judge cuts me off, “I’m sustaining their objection! You had all this time to fix these issues and did nothing. The note is not coming in to evidence.”
At this point, I offer to the Plaintiff’s attorney, quietly, to take a Voluntary Dismissal and I’ll gladly agree it can be w/o prejudice, as this might help on some statute of limitations issues. She emphatically says no.