ERROR TO CONSIDER MATTERS OUTSIDE OF FOUR CORNERS OF COMPLAINT WHEN RULING ON MOTION TO DISMISS–TRIAL COURT MUST MAKE DETAILED AND SPECIFIC FINDINGS OF BAD FAITH BEFORE GRANTING MOTION FOR §57.105 FEES.
Llanso v. WNF Law, PL.,. 45 Fla. L Weekly D1401 (Fla. 3rd DCA June 10, 2020):
Based on the defendant’s argument that res judicata barred the suit, the trial court dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint arising out of an allegedly slandered title.
The defendant had moved to dismiss the complaint, requesting that the trial court take judicial notice of a previous lawsuit along with the pleadings and transcripts filed therein. Defendant argued that res judicata barred suit because the plaintiff had made the same slander of title allegations in a prior counterclaim, as well as in a motion for injunctive relief in a prior action. The defendant also moved for §57.105 sanctions.
The plaintiff asserted that her complaint did not conclusively establish that res judicata applied. Still, the trial court found that the allegations regarding the prior action had “opened the door” for the court to take judicial notice of the prior case and documents filed in it.
Even though the trial court was attempting to decide the issue on the merits expeditiously, the court impermissibly considered matters outside the four corners of the complaint.
Additionally, when a trial court grants a motion for sanctions based on §57.105, it must make detailed, specific findings of bad faith, and should recite those facts on which it bases its conclusion.