United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division
POLSTER CHAPPELL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is Plaintiff David Hastings' Motion for
Reconsideration (Doc. 41) and Defendants response in
opposition (Doc. 44). Hastings seeks reconsideration
of the Court's Order dismissing his case (Doc.
39). Because Hastings did not receive a copy of the
Motions to Dismiss (Docs. 36; 37), the
Court allowed Hastings to supplement his Motion for
Reconsideration (Doc. 41) to explain how he stated a
claim and why the Court should reconsider. (Doc.
42). He responded (Docs. 43; 44).
Still, the Court denies the Motion for Reconsideration
(Doc. 41) for these reasons.
initial Order did not detail the lengthy facts from the
Complaint. (Doc. 39 at 1-2). So the Court
will do so here for clarity.
state court, Hastings had three related cases. The first (No.
13-DR-1298) was a domestic violence case (the “DV
Case”). (Doc. 28 at 16). At some point, the
state court entered a final injunction, which prohibited
Hastings from contacting his ex-wife or daughter. (Doc.
28 at 9, 11, 19). Hastings alleges it
was never served on him. (Doc. 28 at 11).
Nevertheless, the state court issued a warrant for
Hastings' violation of the final injunction. (Doc. 28
at 9). Hastings was arrested in California on that
warrant and eventually extradited to Florida. (Doc. 28 at
Florida, Hastings appeared in state court for two charges.
(Doc. 28 at 11). Those cases were for aggravated
stalking of his ex-wife (the “Wife Case”) (No.
14-CF-12) and aggravated stalking of his daughter (the
“Daughter Case”) (No. 14-CF-15858). (Doc. 28
at 11). Defendants represented Hastings in the
state-court proceedings. (Doc. 28). Eventually, the
State nolle prossed the Daughter Case. (Doc. 28 at
15). But Hastings pled guilty to the Wife Case.
(Doc. 28 at 15, 29-30). Hastings was placed
on probation. (Doc. 28 at 15-18). But he was later
arrested for violating probation, leading to a five-year
sentence. (Doc. 28 at 15-18). While incarcerated,
Hastings discovered two cases on service of final injunctions
that he believes Defendants should have used to have the
Daughter Case dismissed. (Doc. 28 at 17-18).
Hastings' appeals related to the Wife Case were
unsuccessful, and he remains incarcerated. (Doc. 28 at
filed this case for legal malpractice against Defendants.
(Doc. 28). However, Hastings clarified his
malpractice claims are limited only to representation in the
Daughter Case. (Doc. 44 at 5, 7,
motion for reconsideration must demonstrate why the court
should reconsider its prior decision and set forth facts or
law of a strongly convincing nature to induce the court to
reverse its prior decision.” Fla. Coll. Of
Osteopathic Med., Inc. v. Dean Witter Reynolds Inc., 12
F.Supp.2d 1306, 1308 (M.D. Fla. 1998) (internal quotation
marks and citation omitted). “Further, in the interests
of finality and conservation of scarce judicial resources,
reconsideration is an extraordinary remedy to be employed
sparingly.” Stalley v. ADS All. Data Sys.,
Inc., 296 F.R.D. 670, 687 (M.D. Fla. 2013) (internal
quotation marks and citation omitted). There are three
grounds for reconsideration of a prior order under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e): “(1) an
intervening change in controlling law; (2) the availability
of new evidence; and (3) the need to correct clear error or
manifest injustice.” Church of Our Savior v. City
of Jacksonville Beach, 108 F.Supp.3d 1259, 1265 (M.D.
Fla. 2015) (citation omitted).
to Hastings, this action is for malpractice only in the
Daughter Case. That case was nolle prossed in Hastings'
favor. So in the Daughter Case, Hastings obtained the
ultimate result he wanted. As Defendants argue, however, much
of the alleged malpractice and resulting losses have nothing
to do with the Daughter Case. Rather, they relate to the Wife
Case, for which Hastings has not received postconviction
relief. For instance, there are malpractice allegations for
the conviction, violation of probation, and Hastings'
subsequent incarceration. None of those involve the Daughter
Case. And again, Hastings cannot bring a malpractice claim
based on those losses until he receives postconviction
relief. E.g., Steele v. Kehoe, 747 So.2d
931, 933 (Fla. 1999).
extent Hastings argues Defendants should have discovered
nonservice and moved to dismiss the Daughter Case sooner,
that would not have impacted any of the alleged losses. Even
if the Daughter Case were nolle prossed sooner, the Wife Case
was still ongoing. The State prosecuted Hastings in the Wife
Case, eventually resulting in a guilty plea and probation.
Both the Wife and Daughter Cases stemmed from violating the
final injunction in the DV Case, but dismissal of the
Daughter Case would not have changed the result in the Wife
Case nor affected any of the alleged losses. So there are no
alleged losses attributable to the Daughter Case not also
directly attributable to the Wife Case. Put another way,
the Complaint does not adequately allege Defendants'
actions in the Daughter Case are the proximate cause of
Hastings' losses. And the Complaint was properly
even if the Court accepted Hastings' argument that the
malpractice only relates to the Daughter Case, that action
would be barred by the statute of limitations. As Defendants
noted in the Motions to Dismiss and the Court stated in its
Order, the statute of limitations begins when a criminal
defendant obtains relief. See, e.g., Kehoe,
747 So.2d at 933. So for the Daughter Case, that clock
started running when the charge was nolle prossed in October
2014. See id; Larson & Larson, PA.
v. TSE Industries, Inc., 22 So.3d 36, 39-44 (Fla. 2009)
(citing Silvestrone v. Edell, 721 So.2d 1173,
1175-76 (Fla. 1998)); Cira v. Dillinger, 903 So.2d
367, 371-72 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2005). Florida has
a two-year statute of limitations for lawyer malpractice.
Fla. Stat. § 95.11(4)(a). Because this case was
not filed until July 2018, the claim would be time barred.
the core of Hastings' malpractice claim revolves around
nonservice of the final injunction in the DV Case and later
conviction in the Wife Case. According to the Complaint, the
service issue was litigated and relief rejected in state
court. (Doc. 28 at 18-19). And Hastings filed a
habeas petition in this Court based on that issue.
Hastings, No. 2:19-cv-00528-TPB-MRM. If Hastings
obtains postconviction relief from his conviction, then
perhaps he could make out a malpractice claim afterwards.
Until then, the Court must still presume that it was
Hastings' conduct (not Defendants' actions in the
Daughter Case) that was the proximate cause of the losses