IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
IN AND FOR PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA
APPELLATE DIVISION

KEVIN BROWN,

††††††††††† Appellant,

vs.††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††† ††††††††††† Appeal No. 99-7722-88A

AMERI STARR, INC.; HARTFORD INSURANCE CO.; PAT GAGNON;
AND MATTHEW J. COSTELLO,

††††††††††† Appellees.

______________________________/

 

Appeal from Final Order

County Court, Pinellas County

The Honorable Henry J. Andringa

Kevin V. Brown, #050420 CI-143
Gulf Correctional Institution
500 Ike Steele Road
Wewahitchka, FL 32465
Appellant, Pro se

Michael Miller, Esquire
500 N. Westshore Blvd., Suite 650
Tampa, FL 33609
Attorney for the Appellees

ORDER AND OPINION

††††††††††† THIS CAUSE came before the Court on Appellantís Appeal from the Order Denying Motion for Relief from Order entered by the County Court on October 20, 1999.† The Court, having reviewed the motion, the record on appeal, and being otherwise advised in the premises, affirms the ruling of the Trial Court.††

††††††††††† The Court recounted at length the history of this cause in its order dated July 28, 1999, and will not do so again here.† Moving forward, the only issue for determination is whether the trial court abused its discretion in denying Appellantís Motion for Relief from Order.

††††††††††† Rule 1.540 of the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure contemplates relief from judgments, decrees, or orders in the event of clerical mistakes or unjust rulings based upon mistakes, inadvertence, excusable neglect, newly discovered evidence, fraud, etc.† See, Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.540 (a-b).† However, Rule 1.540 does not contemplate relief under circumstances where the moving party has merely suffered prejudice as a result of his own action or inaction. Allstate Ins. Co. v. Gulisano, 722 So. 2d 216, 218 (Fla. 2d DCA 1998).† Moreover, pro se litigants will not be held to a lesser standard than a reasonably competent attorney.† See, Kohn v. City of Miami Beach, 611 So. 2d 538 (Fla. 3d DCA 1992); Carr v. Grace, 321 So. 2d 618 (Fla. 3d DCA 1975), cert. denied, 348 So. 2d 945 (1977).

††††††††††† Appellant claims a Rule 1.540(a) clerical mistake occurred that resulted in his case being assigned to the incorrect court.† However, the test for determining jurisdiction of a court is the amount claimed and put into controversy in good faith.† See, PTS of Gainesville, Inc. v. Olivetti Corp. of America, 334 So. 2d 324 (Fla. 1st DCA 1976).† Given this, Appellantís initial pleading of damages in excess of five thousand dollars shows that this cause was properly placed with the county court, which may award damages up to fifteen thousand dollars.† Therefore, the county court had jurisdiction.† For example, to invoke the jurisdiction of the circuit court, one must plead damages that exceed fifteen thousand dollars.†

††††††††††† Additionally, Appellant considers the trial courtís Order Denying Motion to Transfer to be an unjust ruling based on mistake of law by the trial judge, as contemplated by Rule 1.540(b).† However, as noted by this Court previously, Appellant had thirty days to seek appellate review of that order and did not do so.† As a result of the Appellantís own inaction, the court cannot now reverse that order.† Moreover, in considering the lower courtís decision on the Rule 1.540 motion, Rule 1.060 permits but does not require the trial court to transfer an action.† See, Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.060(a) (stating that an action may be transferred).† This, combined with the trial courtís concerns over the timeliness of the Motion to Transfer, allows this Court to find no abuse of discretion in the lower courtís denial of Appellantís Motion for Relief from Order.† It is, therefore,

ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the Order Denying Motion for Relief from Order is affirmed.

††††††††††† DONE AND ORDERED in chambers at Clearwater, Pinellas County, Florida, this 12th day of June 2000.

  _________________________________
CHARLES W. COPE
Circuit Judge, Appellate Division
 

Copies Furnished To:

The Honorable Henry J. Andringa

Kevin V. Brown, #050420 CI-143
Gulf Correctional Institution
500 Ike Steele Road
Wewahitchka, FL 32465

Michael Miller, Esquire
500 N. Westshore Blvd., Suite 650
Tampa, FL 33609

Staff Attorney, Appellate Division