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Robinson v. Robinson

Florida Court of Appeals, First District

January 3, 2018

Kristopher Darwin Robinson, Appellant,
v.
Sabrina K. Robinson, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.

          On appeal from the Circuit Court for Duval County. Robert M. Dees, Judge.

          Kristopher D. Robinson of Robinson Collins P.L., Jacksonville, for Appellant.

          J. Stephen Alexander of Alexander Law Firm, LLC, St. Augustine, for Appellee.

          Wetherell, J.

         Appellant, the former husband, seeks review of the order dismissing the suit he filed against Appellee, the former wife, to set aside the consent final judgment in the parties' divorce proceeding. Because the trial court reached the right result- albeit for the wrong reason-we affirm under the "tipsy coachman" doctrine.

         I

         The former wife allegedly obtained photos of the former husband and his mistress that were "of a private nature, " and she used the photos as leverage in the parties' divorce proceeding to coerce the former husband to enter into a mediated settlement that was favorable to her. The terms of the settlement were incorporated into a consent final judgment that was entered by the circuit court in Clay County in January 2014.

         More than 2½ years later, in August 2016, after several unsuccessful attempts to modify the consent final judgment, [1] the former husband filed a complaint in the circuit court in Duval County seeking to set aside the consent final judgment. The complaint alleged that the former wife told the former husband that "she would expose the photos if she did not get a satisfactory settlement from the [divorce] proceeding" and that the mediator told the former husband that "if [he] did not give [the former wife] what she wanted, with the physical evidence [the former wife] had against [him], [he] would be refused time-sharing with [his] children, would owe alimony . . . in addition to child support and would have to pay thirty thousand dollars ($30, 000) in attorney's fees to [the former wife]'s attorney." The complaint asserted that these "strong-arm and extortionate tactics" amounted to "fraud on the court."

         The former wife filed a motion to dismiss for improper venue or, alternatively, to transfer the case to Clay County where proceedings to modify the consent final judgment were ongoing. The former husband responded that venue was proper in Duval County because both parties now reside there, and he argued that the case should not be transferred to Clay County because, under Gordon v. Gordon, 625 So.2d 59 (Fla. 4th DCA 1993), "an independent action was required under Florida law to set aside the [consent final judgment] for fraud upon the court because it had been more than a year since the [judgment] was entered."

          The trial court granted the motion to dismiss, reasoning that "it is apparent that the same issues raised in this case are also being litigated in [the Clay County case]." The court reiterated this point in the order denying the former husband's motion for rehearing, explaining that "the issues raised in [the former husband]'s complaint in this case are and should be litigated in the Clay County case." The court thereafter entered a final order dismissing this case with prejudice.

         II

         We review the dismissal order under the de novo standard of review, see Ogborn v. Zingale, 988 So.2d 56, 58 (Fla. 1st DCA 2008), and our review focuses on the result reached by the trial court, not its reasoning, see Dade County School Board v. Radio Station WQBA, 731 So.2d 638, 644 (Fla. 1999) ("[I]f a trial court reaches the right result, but for the wrong reasons, it will be upheld if there is any basis which would support the judgment in the record.").

         We agree with the former husband that the trial court should not have dismissed the case with prejudice based on the venue motion filed by the former wife. Venue was proper in Duval County because both parties reside there, see section 47.011, Florida Statutes, and transfer-not dismissal-is the proper remedy where the trial court determines that there is a more convenient forum, see section 47.122, Florida Statutes. Moreover, abatement-not dismissal-would have been the proper remedy if the trial court was correct in concluding that the issues ...


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