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Legal Memorandum: Reversal of a Trial Court's Judgment

Issue: Is a District Court of Appeal compelled to reverse a trial court’s judgment if those findings are not supported by the weight of evidence?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Reversal of decision; Weight of evidence
Jurisdiction: Florida
Cited Cases: 809 So. 2d 95; 373 So. 2d 376; 480 So. 2d 196; 865 So. 2d 541; 358 So. 2d 190; 189 So. 2d 827; 259 So. 2d 529
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 07/01/2008

Although the trial court’s findings of fact and conclusions of law come to the District Court of Appeal “with a presumption of correctness,” the findings and conclusions must be disturbed if they are “totally unsupported by competent substantial evidence.”  Desvigne v. Downtown Towing Co., 865 So. 2d 541, 542 (Fla. 3d DCA 2003).  “[W]here the court’s decision is manifestly against the weight of the evidence, or unsupported by competent substantial evidence, it becomes this Court’s duty to reverse.”  Id. at 542 (reversing and remanding because the trial court’s findings and conclusions were not supported by the evidence).  The trial court also must be reversed if its findings are inconsistent and its conclusions are conflicting.  J. Sourini Painting, Inc. v. Johnson Paints, Inc., 809 So. 2d 95, 98 (Fla. 2d DCA 2002) (reversing and remanding because the trial court’s findings and conclusions were internally contradictory).  See Hill v. State, 358 So. 2d 190, 194 n.1 (Fla. 1st DCA 1978) (remand is appropriate when the trial court has made intermediate and ultimate findings that are inconsistent).

Even the findings of fact made by the trial judge acting in a non-jury case as the factfinder will be reversed if “the finding is clearly erroneous or against the manifest weight of the evidence.”  Johnson v. Jaquith, 189 So. 2d 827, 829 (Fla. 4th DCA 1966).  Indeed, it is the obligation of the appellate court to reverse […]

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