The Tipsy Coachman Rule Affirms a Decision of a Lower Court Inspite of Finding Errors on the Basis of Alternative Reasoning
The "tipsy coachman rule," allows an appellate court to affirm a decision despite a finding of error in the lower court's reasoning as long as there is an alternative basis to justify affirming the decision
In Dade County Sch. Bd. v. Radio Station WQBA, 731 So. 2d 638, 644 (Fla. 1999), the Court held that the tipsy coachman rule does not limit an appellee to only those arguments that were raised in the lower court.
In that decision, the Court stated:
If an appellate court, in considering whether to uphold or overturn a lower court's judgment, is not limited to consideration of the reasons given by the trial court but rather must affirm the judgment if it is legally correct regardless of those reasons, it follows that an appellee, in arguing for the affirmance of a judgment, is not limited to legal arguments expressly asserted as grounds for the judgment in the court below.
It stands to reason that the appellee can present any argument supported by the record even if not expressly asserted in the lower court. . . . An appellee need not raise and preserve alternative grounds for the lower court's judgment in order to assert them in defense when the appellant attacks the judgment on appeal. Radio Station WQBA, 731 So. 2d at 645.
The Court has also stated that "a party who is content with the judgment below need not assign error in order to support that judgment and is not limited in the appellate courts to the theories of recovery stated by the trial court." MacNeill v. O'Neal, 238 So. 2d 614, 615 (Fla. 1970).