Florida's Third District Court of Appeal issued an opinion today that highlights the perils of de novo review. De novo review is the broadest standard of review for an appellate court, reserved for construing pure matters of law, and is often an appellant's best opportunity for reversal. In Deutsche Bank National Trust Company v. de Brito, Case No. 3D16-1466 (Fla. 3d DCA November 8, 2017), the court reversed a post-trial order of involuntary dismissal in a mortgage foreclosure action. Why? Because under the de novo standard of review, the court was allowed to review the facts and evidence anew, and determined that the trial court was wrong in concluding that the bank's witness testimony concerning business records was hearsay. The court also determined that the key defense prompting the dismissal–the failure of the bank to provide notice of a rate increase–was never actually plead by the defendants. This opinion highlights the inherent risks of defending an appeal with de novo standard review–the most favorable standard of review for an appellant. Read the full opinion here.
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