Federal Court of Appeals Asks Florida Supreme Court for Clarification of State Law Concerning Statute of Limitations Governing Post-Judgment Discovery

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has asked the Florida Supreme Court to  clarify which Florida statute establishes the limitations period for an action to enforce a judgment brought in the federal district court located in Florida. This question certified in Salinas v. Ramsey, No. 16-10552 (11th Cir. May 2, 2017) is:

What limitations period, if any, applies to a request for post-judgment discovery brought in federal district court in Florida on a judgment entered by that same federal district court?

The facts of Salinas are straighforward. A federal jury found—in 2004—that the plaintiffs’ employer violated federal overtime laws by failing to pay time and a half for overtime worked. Writs of execution on the resulting judgment were issued in November 2004 and April 2005. Then, nothing more occurred for more than ten years. On May 15, 2015, the plaintiffs returned to federal court where they filed a motion to compel post-judgment discovery. The trial court denied the motion as untimely, relying on the Eleventh Circuit’s opinion in Balfour Beatty Bahamas, Ltd. v. Bush, 170 F.3d 1048 (11th Cir. 1999), which held the five-year limitations period of section 95.11(2)(a), Florida Statutes, barred the request for post-judgment discovery.

The Salinas opinion acknowledges that at least one Florida court of appeal disagrees with the Balfour decision but also points out that “even among Florida courts, there are differing views about which limitations period applies in which cases.” Because of this “substantial doubt” about the meaning of sections  95.11(1) and 2(a), Florida Statutes, the federal court of appeals concluded it “should ‘avoid making unnecessary state law guesses and [] offer the state court the opportunity to explicate state law.'”

If the parties do not settle their dispute and the Florida Supreme Court agrees to answer the federal court’s question, a decision would likely be made sometime in 2018.

By | 2017-05-08T14:46:07+00:00 May 8th, 2017|Case Law|Comments Off on Federal Court of Appeals Asks Florida Supreme Court for Clarification of State Law Concerning Statute of Limitations Governing Post-Judgment Discovery