County Civil Court: CIVIL PROCEDURE—Jurisdiction: Trial court
had subject matter jurisdiction to determine whether attorney had obligation to
pay court reporter for appearance at divorce hearing, notwithstanding that
divorce decree ordered attorney’s client to pay half of the reporter’s fee. Lazaro v. Robert A. Dempster Reporting Co.,
No. 04-0013AP-88A (
IN THE CIRCUIT COURT FOR THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
LOUIS DANIEL LAZARO, ESQUIRE,
vs. Appeal No. 04-0013AP-88A
ROBERT A. DEMPSTER REPORTING
Opinion Filed ______________
Appeal from Final Judgment
Judge Karl B. Grube
Louis Daniel Lazaro, Esq.
James Casesa, Esq.
Attorney for Appellee
This matter is before the Court on an appeal filed by Louis Daniel Lazaro (Lazaro) from the Order entered on February 3, 2004, denying Lazaro’s Motion to Vacate Default, Summary Judgment, Dismissal of Counterclaims and Crossclaims, and Writ of Garnishment. Having fully reviewed the briefs, the record, and pertinent legal authority, this Court hereby affirms the Order.
A. Dempster Reporting Company (Dempster) provided court reporting services at a
divorce proceeding in which Lazaro represented the husband, Marc Colombo. The Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage
issued in that proceeding directed
April 18, 2002, Dempster instituted the present action against Lazaro for
payment of half of the reporter’s fee.
Lazaro filed an answer, counterclaim and motions for relief on August
listing his address as
The matter was set for a pretrial conference on April 16, 2003, and notice was sent to Lazaro at the above address. However, he failed to appear, and accordingly, Default and Default Judgment was entered against him on April 25, 2003.
Defendant did not
seek to have the default vacated until September 26, 2003, which was also the
first time any of his pleadings listed his address as
Following the January 22, 2004, hearing, the court issued an order denying Lazaro’s motion, finding that “the Motion fails to establish any factual basis upon which this Court can find mistake, inadvertence, surprise or excusable neglect nor does is [sic] state the existence of any valid defense.” After Lazaro’s motion for rehearing was also denied, he filed the present appeal.
primary contention is that the county court lacked subject matter jurisdiction
over Dempster’s claim because the
While the facts developed at a trial might have ultimately established that Lazaro was not liable to Dempster, the county court clearly had subject matter jurisdiction to determine Lazaro’s liability. Further, the fact that no trial was held was solely the fault of Lazaro, who failed to keep the court apprised of his proper address for service.
Finally, this Court finds no other
grounds upon which to disturb the county court’s ruling. While Florida Rule of Civil Procedure
1.540(b)(1) provides that a court may relieve a party from a final judgment
upon a finding of mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect, the
county court specifically found that none of these factors existed, nor did
Lazaro offer a legitimate defense. As
Lazaro has filed neither a transcript nor an approved statement of the evidence
or proceedings below,
this Court must accept the propriety of the county court’s findings. See
Therefore, it is
ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the Order Denying Defendant’s Verified Motion Seeking to Vacate Default, Summary Judgment, Dismissal of Counterclaims and Cross Claims, and Writ of Garnishment is AFFIRMED.
DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers,
JOHN A. SCHAEFER
Circuit Judge, Appellate Division
Copies furnished to:
Judge Karl B. Grube
Louis Daniel Lazaro, Esq.
James Nicholas Casesa, Esq.
The Complaint was not served until July 31, 2002.
Court recognizes that these decisions are from sister circuits and are
therefore not binding precedent.
However, they are in accord with the modern view holding the lawyer
liable to court reporters unless he makes it clear at the time he retains the
reporter that only the client is responsible for payment. See Williams v.
 Rule 9.200(b)(4) provides that where evidentiary proceedings are not recorded, the appellant
may prepare a statement of the evidence or proceedings from the best available means, including the appellant’s recollection. This statement shall be served on the appellee, who may serve objections or proposed amendments to it within 10 days of service. Thereafter, the statement and any objections or proposed amendments shall be submitted to the lower tribunal for settlement and approval. As settled and approved, the statement shall be included by the clerk of the lower tribunal in the record.