LOLITA B. CARSON-GRAYSON, Appellant,
ALAN GRAYSON, Appellee.
FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE MOTION FOR REHEARING AND
DISPOSITION THEREOF IF FILED
Non-Final Appeal from the Circuit Court for Orange County,
Tanya Davis Wilson, Judge.
J. Ramsey, of Ramsey Law, PLLC, Oviedo, for Appellant.
Kenneth D. Morse, of Kenneth D. Morse, P.A., Heathrow, for
B. Carson-Grayson appeals a non-final order conveying her
interest in certain property to Alan Grayson. She argues that
she was denied due process when the trial court ruled on
motions at a hearing that had been noticed only as a
scheduling conference. We agree and reverse.
litigation began when Ms. Carson-Grayson filed a petition for
dissolution of marriage. Mr. Grayson filed a counterclaim
seeking annulment, a determination of paternity, and
asserting various claims relating to the parties' jointly
held property. Following a judgment of annulment of the
parties' marriage, Mr. Grayson filed two motions, seeking
the transfer of Ms. Carson-Grayson's interest in property
to him. He noticed both motions for a full hearing on July 7.
Soon thereafter, he filed a second notice setting a short
hearing for June 22 for the purpose of "asking for set
hearing time for" the motions.
Carson-Grayson, who was pro se at the time, did not attend
the June 22 hearing. Despite being noticed only as a
scheduling conference, the court considered and granted both
of Mr. Grayson's motions and subsequently entered the
order on appeal. The order stated that it was made "on
the basis of the evidence and legal argument therein, and
considering any opposition filed thereto." Nonetheless, the
court kept the July 7 hearing on the docket, which Mr.
Grayson then re-noticed for a different matter. Ms.
Carson-Grayson appeared at the July 7 hearing, but the court
refused to address the property distribution motions because
they had already been resolved.
process requires that a party 'be given . . . a real
opportunity to be heard and defend in an orderly procedure,
before judgment is rendered against him.'" VMD
Fin. Servs., Inc. v. CB Loan Purchase Assocs., LLC, 68
So.3d 997, 999 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011) (quoting Burch v. City
of Lakeland, 891 So.2d 654, 656 (Fla. 2d DCA 2005)).
Violations of due process rights are fundamental error.
Kilnapp v. Kilnapp, 140 So.3d 1051, 1053 (Fla. 4th
DCA 2014). A court violates a party's due process rights
by expanding the scope of a hearing without proper notice.
Haeberli v. Haeberli, 157 So.3d 489, 490 (Fla. 5th
DCA 2015) (holding that court violated due process by
considering one motion at hearing that was scheduled and
noticed for different motion); see Shah v. Shah, 178
So.3d 70, 71 (Fla. 3d DCA 2015) (holding that court violated
due process by noticing hearing as status conference but then
treating it as final hearing and entering final judgment);
Rodriguez v. Santana, 76 So.3d 1035, 1037 (Fla. 4th
DCA 2011) (holding that court violated due process rights by
conducting final evidentiary hearing when only case
management conference had been scheduled and noticed).
court's failure to provide Ms. Carson-Grayson with any
notice that the merits of the motions would be determined at
the June 22 hearing requires reversal and a new hearing.
and EDWARDS, JJ, concur