final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
Appeal from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County No.
12-1321, Eric William Hendon, Judge.
Rodriguez LLP, and Luis E. Llamas, for appellants.
and Brooke LLP, and Stephanie M. Simm, John C. Seipp, Jr.,
and Donald A. Blackwell, for appellees Toyota Motor North
America, Inc., Toyota Tsusho America, Inc., and Toyota Motor
Sales USA, Inc.
ROTHENBERG, C.J., and EMAS and SCALES, JJ.
Magdalena, individually and as plenary guardian of Eugenio
Magdalena, and Eugenio Magdalena, individually (collectively,
"the plaintiffs") appeal the trial court's
order granting Toyota Motor North America, Inc., Toyota
Tsusho America, Inc., and Toyota Motor Sales USA, Inc.'s
(collectively, "Toyota") motion to tax costs and
the final judgment subsequently rendered setting the amount
of the costs award. The orders under review are based on the
trial court's earlier ruling granting Toyota's motion
to dismiss on the basis of forum non conveniens and its later
finding that, pursuant to section 57.041, Florida Statutes
(2016), and Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.525, Toyota was
entitled to its costs as the "prevailing party."
Because we conclude that a dismissal on the ground of forum
non conveniens is not a judgment or ruling on the merits of
the claims against Toyota, but rather a ruling which merely
provides that another forum is more convenient and would best
serve the ends of justice, we conclude that the trial court
erred by awarding Toyota its costs.
issue before this Court involves the interpretation of a
statute, which is a pure question of law, the standard of
review is de novo. B.Y. v. Dep't of Children &
Families, 887 So.2d 1253, 1255 (Fla. 2004);
Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc. v. Reddick, 954 So.2d 723,
730 (Fla. 1st DCA 2007) ("An appellate court reviews
whether a trial court's award of costs is excessive for
an abuse of discretion; however, whether a cost requested may
be awarded, at all, is a question of law to be reviewed de
novo.") (citation omitted).
trial court awarded Toyota its costs as the prevailing party
under section 57.041. We conclude that this was error for
several reasons. First, there is existing authority that
calls into question whether the "prevailing party"
standard is even applicable when assessing whether a party is
entitled to an award of costs under section 57.041. See
Wolfe v. Culpepper Constructors, Inc., 104 So.3d 1132,
1137 (Fla. 2d DCA 2012) (en banc) (receding from its earlier
decision in Spring Lake Improvement Dist. v.
Tyrrell, 868 So.2d 656 (Fla. 2d DCA 2004), and holding
that the "prevailing party" standard is
inapplicable to a determination of whether a party is
entitled to an award of costs under section 57.041);
Bessey v. Difilippo, 951 So.2d 992, 995 (Fla. 1st
DCA 2007) (holding that '"prevailing party' is
not the statutory standard for costs awards") (footnote
omitted); but see Granoff v. Seidle, 915 So.2d 674
(Fla. 5th DCA 2005) (applying the "prevailing
party" standard to a determination under section
regardless of whether or not the "prevailing party"
standard may be applied under section 57.041, it was error to
award Toyota its costs under section 57.041 because no
judgment has been entered, and Toyota is not a
"prevailing party" merely because the litigation
will take place in a different forum.