Loraine Harrison (a/k/a Loraine Harrison-French) was sued by Gwendolyn Elmore, individually and as mother and next friend of Jackie Elmore, for damages alleged to have resulted from the negligent operation of Harrison's automobile by Albert Washington (also named as defendant by Elmore). During the pendency of the action Harrison died and her defense attorney appropriately filed and served a suggestion of death. Pursuant to Rule 1.260(a)(1), Florida Rules of Civil Procedure,
After the suggestion of death was filed Elmore filed a "Motion to Compel Substitution of Party Defendant," seeking the substitution of Harrison's personal representative as a party defendant. As no estate had been opened and no personal representative named, however, Elmore's motion requested that Harrison's defense attorney be ordered to open the estate so that the personal representative could be substituted as a party defendant. The trial court granted the motion and ordered Harrison to substitute the estate of Loraine Harrison as a party defendant.
Harrison's defense attorney, in Harrison's name, seeks certiorari review of the order granting Elmore's motion. As Harrison is incapable of opening her own estate, we read the order as requiring her defense attorney to do so, as requested in Elmore's motion. Finding this to be a departure from the essential requirements of the law we grant certiorari and quash the order.
First, we observe that Harrison's defense attorney was her representative only for the purpose for which his services were retained, i.e., to defend her interests in the negligence action. The court was without authority to order him to undertake other matters. Indeed, after the suggestion of death was filed even his authority to proceed in the negligence action itself became limited. See Cope v. Waugh, 627 So.2d 136 (Fla. 1st DCA 1993).
Writ issued; order under review quashed.
The 90-day time period may be extended for good cause shown. Scutieri v. Miller, 584 So.2d 15 (Fla. 3d DCA 1991).