The only time a party may seek to reinstate a case is by motion for good cause shown when the action has been dismissed for failure to prosecute; Fla.R.Civ.P. 1.420 Otherwise, once a case is voluntarily dismissed, the court loses jurisdiction over the the lawsuit and cannot reopen the matter.
According to Randle-Eastern Ambulance Service, Inc. v. Vasta, 360 So. 2d 68 (Fla. 1978) The right to dismiss one’s own lawsuit during the course of trial is guaranteed by Rule 1.420(a), endowing a plaintiff with unilateral authority to block action favorable to a defendant which the trial judge might be disposed to approve.
The effect is to remove completely from the court’s consideration the power to enter an order, equivalent in all respects to a deprivation of ‘jurisdiction’. If the trial judge loses the ability to exercise judicial discretion or to adjudicate the cause in any way, it follows that he has no jurisdiction to reinstate a dismissed proceeding. The policy reasons for this consequence support its apparent rigidity See, Hayden v. Hayden, 373 So.2d 436 (Fla. 3d DCA 1979)
The Court doesn’t even have jurisdiction to consider a Motion to reactivate a dismissed action and set aside the Notice of Voluntary Dismissal. Miller v. Fortune Ins. Co., 484 So.2d 1221 Fla. 1986) Anderson v. Lovejoy, 354 So.2d 951 (Fla. 1st DCA 1978)
Serious Repercussions Wife filed for dissolution; parties had one child. 1 year after filing a hearing was held by GM 10 days after GM filed a report, Wife filed voluntary dismissal. 20 days after voluntary dismissal, Judge entered Final Judgment of Dissolution. 1 year later, FH filed to modify timesharing
OOPS! Trial Court granted modification On appeal, Court held that voluntary dismissal filed before the case was submitted to the court, the Court did not have jurisdiction to enter the FJ of DM Thus, the FJ of DM and all subsequent orders were void ab initio and therefore vacated THE PARTIES WERE STILL MARRIED Kelly v. Colston, 977 So.2d 692(Fla.1stDCA 2008)
HELP? The voluntary dismissal does not preclude the court from correcting clerical mistakes and errors from oversight or omission. McKibbin v. Fujarek, 385 So. 2d 724 (Fla. 4th DCA 1980) A Court may retain jurisdiction to hear certain issues such as attorneys fees at a later date. Hayden, at 437-38
What about 1.540 Motions? Must file motion to set aside voluntary dismissal under this rule within one year and allege mistake, inadvertence, etc. But does a judgmental mistake by a party (thought we could reconcile) suffice? See, Miller v. Fortune Ins. Co., 484 So.2d 1221 (Fla.1986)
Parties filed Stipulation for Dismissal w/prejudice in 2003 Plaintiff filed for Relief in 2005 and Court set aside the dismissal Reversed on appeal: if it was a voluntary dismissal the Court lost jurisdiction; if it was set aside based upon 1.540, it was untimely Rabello V. Alonso, 927 So.2d 45 (Fla.3d DCA 2006)