Federal Litigation Update: Amendments to the Local Rules for the Southern District of Florida Go Into Effect December 1, 2017

Dec 12, 2017   

On October 19, 2017, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida issued Administrative Order 2017-60, announcing several amendments to the Local Rules of the Southern District of Florida. The amendments impact procedures for filing trial and hearing exhibits, treatment of motions to seal, submissions of proposed orders with emergency and ex parte filings, page limits, requirements in pretrial scheduling conference reports regarding electronic discovery, timing of scheduling orders, requirements for filing a Mediation Report, notices of settlement, Attorney Discipline Rules, Local Admiralty Rule Governing Vessel Seizure, among other things. The amendments to the Local Rules went into effect December 1, 2016. A copy of Administrative Order 2017-60 and the amended rules can be read here and significant amendments are discussed in summary below.

A. S.D. Fla. L.R. 5.3 – Files and Exhibits

S.D. Fla. L.R. 5.3 was amended to describe the procedure for electronically filing trial and hearing exhibits, including new sections on mandatory electronic filing, exemptions from mandatory electronic filings, a required Certification of Compliance, sanctions for failure to comply, when compliance is not necessary, and the procedure for removal of exhibits. More specifically, pursuant to amended S.D. Fla. L.R. 5.3(b)(2), within ten (10) days of the conclusion of a hearing or trial, a party must file via CM./ECF: a) an electronic version of each documentary exhibit that the party offered or introduced into evidence; and b) a digital photograph of each non-documentary physical exhibit that the party offered or introduced into evidence unless otherwise ordered by the Court or if exempt under 5.3(b)(3). Upon such filing, the attorney for the filing party shall also complete and file a Certification of Compliance Re. Admitted Evidence form. S.D. Fla. L.R. 5.3(b)(4). The failure to timely comply with either the electronic filing requirements or the certification requirement may result in sanctions. S.D. Fla. L.R. 5.3(b)(5).

B. S.D. Fla. L.R. 5.4 Procedure for Filing Under Seal in Civil Cases

S.D. Fla. L.R. 5.4(b) was amended to clarify procedural ambiguities regarding the proper time for filing proposed sealed materials and addresses public filing of pleadings, motions, memorandum, or other documents that attach or reveal the content of the proposed sealed material. For example, under the amended version of S.D. Fla. L.R. 5.4(b)(1), in cases not otherwise sealed in their entirety, a party seeking to file documents under seal shall file a motion to file under seal in which the party shall describe the information or documents to be sealed “with as much particularity as possible, but without attaching or revealing the content of the proposed sealed material.” The rule was further amended to make clear that “[t]he proposed sealed material shall not be filed unless the Court grants the motion to file under seal.”

C. S.D. Fla. L.R. 7.1(a)(2) Motions, General

S.D. Fla. L.R. 7.1(a)(2) was amended to include “motions seeking emergency or ex parte relief or temporary restraining orders” as motions requiring proposed orders to be filed and submitted via e-mail to the Court.

D. S.D. Fla. L.R. 7.1(c)(2) Memorandum of Law; Page Limits

S.D. Fla. L.R. 7.1(c)(2) was amended to clarify that title pages preceding the first page of text, including “tables of contents, tables of citations,” shall not be counted as pages for purposes of this rule.

E. S.D. Fla. L.R. 16.1(b) Pretrial Procedure In Civil Actions

S.D. Fla. L.R. 16.1(b)(2)(K) was amended to require issues regarding disclosure, discovery, or the preservation of electronically stored information, as well as whether the parties have agreed to use the ESI checklist, be included in the Pretrial Conference Report. The ESI checklist has been added at the end of the local rules, although its use is only encouraged.

F. S.D. Fla. L.R. 16(b)(3) Timing of Scheduling Orders

S.D. Fla. L.R. 16(b)(3) has been amended to reduce the number of days within which the Court shall enter a Scheduling Order ninety (90) to sixty (60) days after the appearance of a defendant and from 120 to ninety (90) days after the complaint has been served on a defendant.

G. S.D. Fla. L.R. 16.2(f) Mediation Report; Notice of Settlement

S.D. Fla. L.R. 16.2(f)(1) was amended to provide for the filing of mediation reports by mediators who are not authorized CM/ECF users. Additionally, S.D. Fla. L.R. 16.2(f)(2) was amended to require notice of settlement to the Court pursuant to the requirements of S.D. Fla. L.R. 16.4 which was added in the recent amendments.

H. S.D. Fla. L.R. 16.4 Notices of Settlement

S.D. Fla. L.R. 16.4 was added to describe the requirements for notices of settlement. Under S.D. Fla. L.R. 16.4, should parties reach a settlement, then within two (2) days of the agreement being reached, a notice of settlement shall be filed jointly by counsel for all parties to the settlement. Alternatively, the parties may file a notice or stipulation pursuant to Fed R. Civ. P. 41, if applicable, but unless such notice or stipulation is filed within two Court days of the parties reaching a settlement, the parties are still required to file a separate notice of settlement.

I. Revisions to Rules Governing the Admission, Practice, Peer Review, and Discipline of Attorneys.

Attorney discipline rules and disciplinary proceedings have been substantially revised into a single procedure in Rule 6. Under the amended rules, peer review and discipline rules have been combined into a single procedure. In addition, the rules regarding attorney reinstatement have been amended to require that an attorney seeking reinstatement after disbarment or suspension must first certify their good standing with the Florida Bar. Rule 12.9(b) has also been amended regarding the time frame in which a disbarred attorney may apply for reinstatement. Rule 12.9(c) has been amended to permit the Chief Judge to rule on petitions for reinstatement or submit it to the active Judges to be determined by majority vote.

Fuerst Ittleman David & Joseph’s litigation practice has a long record of successfully resolving high stakes cases on behalf of clients across a wide range of industries and in numerous forums. If you or your company is in need of representation in a case involving a complex legal dispute, contact us at 305-350-5690 or contact@fidjlaw.com for a free consultation.