Legal Memorandum: Motion for an Order Vacating a Judgment

Issue: Under Florida law, can a party bring a motion for an order vacating a judgment under Rule 1.540(a) of the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure for a ‘clerical mistake?’

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Motion to vacate; Clerical mistakes
Jurisdiction: Florida
Cited Cases: 376 So. 2d 1162; 675 So. 2d 1024
Cited Statutes: Rule 1.540(a) of the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure
Date: 05/01/2015

Rule 1.540(a) empowers courts to correct or modify clerical mistakes at any time on its own initiative or by motion of the party, but it does not permit the court to vacate a judgment based on a clerical mistake.  “Clerical mistakes in judgments, decrees, or other parts of the record and errors therein arising from oversight or omission may be corrected by the court at any time on its own initiative or on the motion of any party and after such notice, if any, as the court orders.”  Id. (emphasis added). 

Furthermore, “[c]lerical mistakes under Rule 1.540(a) encompass only errors or mistakes from accidental slip or omission and not errors or mistakes in the substance of what is decided by the judgment or order.”  Dept. of Rev. ex rel. Thomas v. Thomas, 675 So. 2d 1024, 1025 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1st Dist. 1996) (citing Town of Hialeah Gardens v. Hendry, 376 So. 2d 1162, 1164 (Fla. 1979)).

Accordingly, because Rule 1.540(a) does not contemplate changing the substance of an order due to “clerical error” and because, in any event, the record contains no evidence suggesting any clerical error occurred, the court must not grant a motion to vacate.    


Subscribe to Litigation Pathfinder

To get the full-text of this Legal Memorandum ... and more!

(Month-to-month and annual subscriptions available)