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Grover v. Karl, Jr. et al., Case No. 2D14-3447 (2nd DCA)

In Grover, the Second District reversed the trial court's denial of the plaintiff's request to file an amended complaint. The plaintiff brought suit against a bar and its owner after slipping and falling at the bar when other patrons got into a fight. The plaintiff's deposition testimony contradicted the operative complaint, and the defendants therefore moved for summary judgment. The plaintiff then moved to amend her complaint, and filed an affidavit setting forth assertions that differed from her deposition testimony. The trial court granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment, and denied the plaintiff the opportunity to amend her complaint.

The Second District agreed with the entry of summary judgment, but disagreed with the denial of the motion to amend. The Second District noted that "as a general rule, refusal to allow amendment constitutes an abuse of discretion unless it clearly appears that allowing the amendment would prejudice the opposing party, the privilege to amend has been abused, or amendment would be futile." The court further stated that before a trial court can deny leave to amend, "it must find that one of these three factors exists." The Second District found that the record did not reflect that the trial court considered whether the proposed amended complaint was prejudicial, an abuse of the privilege, or futile. The Second District noted the difficulty faced by the trial court, with a party's version of the facts changing from the complaint in deposition, and further in a post-deposition affidavit, and again in a motion to amend filed on the eve of summary judgment. Nonetheless, the trial court was required to find prejudice, abuse of privilege or futility before denying the plaintiff the right to amend her complaint. Thus, the Second District reversed.

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