final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
from the Circuit Court for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit,
Broward County; John P. Contini, Judge; L.T. Case No.
Laurent of Laurent Law Office, P.L., Miami, for appellant.
brief filed on behalf of appellee.
Rule of Judicial Administration 2.516 lies at the center of
this appeal. The mother appeals a sanctions order, and argues
the trial court erred in sanctioning her pursuant to section
57.105, Florida Statutes (2015), and Rule 2.516. While the
father complied with section 57.105, she argues he failed to
comply with the strict requirements of Rule 2.516. We agree
mother and father obtained an out-of-state custody order in
Haiti; the Haitian order was not domesticated. The mother
then moved to the United States with their daughter where she
petitioned for a determination of paternity, child support,
and time-sharing for the father.
father moved to dismiss the mother's petition, arguing
her case was barred by res judicata and collateral estoppel.
On the same day, he sent a "safe harbor letter" to
the mother advising her that he would move for sanctions if
she did not voluntarily dismiss her petition with prejudice.
father then moved for sanctions, pursuant to section 57.105,
arguing the mother's petition was frivolous and
duplicative to avoid the Haitian order. He also filed an
amended motion to dismiss the mother's complaint for lack
of subject matter jurisdiction.
father alleged the mother fled Haiti with their minor child
without the father's permission. He was only able to
reach the mother with the help of the U.S. Department of
State. When he located the mother, he moved to domesticate
the Haitian order; the mother filed a paternity petition. He
asserted the mother's claims were not only duplicative
and barred by res judicata and collateral estoppel, but were
"so devoid of merit as to be sanctionable."
trial court dismissed the mother's petition, granted the
father's motion for sanctions, and ordered the mother to
pay $200 in attorney's fees. The mother moved for
rehearing on the sanctions order, arguing the father had
failed to comply with Florida's service rules. The court
denied the motion for rehearing. The mother now appeals.
review a sanctions order for an abuse of discretion. Lago
v. Kame By Design, LLC, 120 So.3d 73, 74 (Fla. 4th DCA
2013). "However, to the extent a trial court's order
on fees is based on an issue of law, [we have] de novo
57.105 requires a party filing a motion for sanctions to
comply with the twenty-one-day "safe harbor"
provision, and Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.516.
§ 57.105(4), Fla. Stat. (2015); Fla. R. Jud. Admin.
2.516. The "safe harbor" provision requires a party
to wait twenty-one days after serving its motion for
sanctions on opposing counsel before filing the motion so
that the challenged document can be corrected or withdrawn.
§ 57.105(4), Fla. Stat.
the father's motion for sanctions complied with the
twenty-one-day "safe harbor" provision as the
father's notice was sent on July 21, 2015, and the
sanctions motion was filed thirty-five days later on August
25, 2015. However, the father's "safe harbor"
letter failed to ...