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Florida Fourth DCA applies "tipsy coachman" doctrine and finds no error in trial court's admission of evidence on improper basis

On May 24, 2017, in Tower Hill Preferred Insurance Company v, Cabrera, No. 4D16-220, the Florida Fourth DCA affirmed a final judgment for the plaintiff in a case, concluding that while the trial court had admitted documentary evidence on an improper basis, another basis existed to admit the evidence. The court applied the colorfully titled “tipsy coachman” doctrine, which holds that even though a trial court’s ruling is based on improper reasoning, the ruling will be upheld if there is any theory or principle of law in the record which would support the ruling. See Dade Cty. Sch. Bd. v. Radio Station WQBA, 731 So. 2d 638, 644-45 (Fla. 1999); see alsoRobertson v. State, 829 So. 2d 901, 906 (Fla. 2002); Vandergriff v. Vandergriff, 456 So. 2d 464, 466 (Fla. 1984); Holland v. Holland, 458 So. 2d 81, 85 n.3 (Fla. 5th DCA 1984); Carraway v. Armour and Co., 156 So. 2d 494 (Fla. 1963). In other words, the alternative theory must be supported by the record and will not apply where factual findings necessary to support the theory were not made in the trial court.

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