Toscano Condo. Ass’n v. DDA Eng’rs, P.A., No. 3D18-1762, 2019 Fla. App. LEXIS 8262, (3d DCA May 29, 2019)

Restrictions on leave to amend in construction and design defect cases.

Although Florida courts tend to permit the liberal amendment of pleadings, a recent ruling by the 3rd DCA imposed a limit. The plaintiff appealed the denial of its motion to file a fourth amended complaint to add the defendant in a construction and design defects matter. The 3rd DCA affirmed the trial court’s ruling because the Association had: (1) already been granted leave to amend on three prior occasions and (2) the Association waited to add the defendant until more than two years after filing the complaint and more than six months after the trial court held its case management conference. Specifically, the Association commenced this action in September 2015 and amended its complaint in May 2016 and June 2017 to include additional defendants. A case management order was then entered in June 2017, setting deadlines and scheduling trial for July 16, 2018. Pursuant to the case management order, August 1, 2017 was designated as the deadline for adding parties. On November 30, 2017, the Association moved for leave to file a fourth amended complaint to include the defendant, which the trial court denied on January 22, 2018. On appeal, the 3rd DCA recognized that the defendant was involved in the case early on; however, it only faced indemnity claims from the architect. Nevertheless, the court contended that there must be a stopping point to litigation and trial courts have the ability to manage their dockets.

It it noteworthy that, while these Florida construction defect cases tend to liberally add defendants and amend pleadings, there are certainly restrictions on doing so. 


Case Law Alerts, 3rd Quarter, July 2019

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