Dismissal For Lack of Prosecution: Failure To Attend Status Conference; Contempt: Indirect Criminal Contempt: Failure To Attend Scheduled Hearing

Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles v. Berg, ___ So. 3d ___, 35 Fla. L. Weekly D2309 (Fla. 4th DCA 10/20/10)

The appellate court affirmed the dismissal of a case for lack of prosecution based upon the plaintiff’s failure to attend a status conference but reversed an order requiring plaintiff’s counsel to make a $250 donation to the county law library as a sanction for her failure to appear.  “Counsel’s failure to appear for a scheduled hearing has been characterized as an ‘indirect criminal contempt,’ triggering the application of Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.840.”  Because the trial court failed to comply with the procedural safeguards imposed by Rule 3.840, the trial court’s sanction could not be sustained.