Jurisdiction Over Non-Resident Defendants
by Caitlin Szematowicz on July 17th, 2020 in Business & Corporate Law, Litigation
When filing a lawsuit, it is an important consideration that the court must have personal jurisdiction over the defendant who is being sued.
Residents of the State of Florida are subject to the jurisdiction of the Florida courts. However, when a plaintiff sues a foreign – or non-resident – defendant in the Florida courts, the State of Florida must have personal jurisdiction over the non-resident in order to properly hear and decide the case.
Therefore, in order to meet requirements of personal jurisdiction under Florida law and standard principles of due process, the State of Florida must have personal jurisdiction over a foreign defendant.
This article will review jurisdiction over foreign residents.
Defendants who do not reside in the State of Florida are generally referred to as “foreign” defendants.
The procedure to determine whether personal jurisdiction exists over a foreign defendant in Florida is a two-part inquiry. A court must first determine that the facts of the underlying action fall within Florida’s long-arm statute. Second, a court must determine whether the defendant has sufficient “minimum contacts” with Florida such that the due process requirements of the Fourteenth Amendment are satisfied.
Personal jurisdiction under Florida’s long-arm statute may be obtained by finding either general or specific personal jurisdiction.
In order to obtain specific personal jurisdiction over a non-resident, a plaintiff must show that the foreign defendant’s personal activities in Florida satisfy one of the nine specified categories listed in § 48.193(1)(a)-(h) and that the Plaintiff’s cause of action relates to those activities.
The acts wherein a defendant submits itself to the jurisdiction of the courts of the State of Florida are the following:
- Operating, conducting, engaging in, or carrying on a business or business venture in this state or having an office or agency in the State of Florida.
- Committing a tortious act within the State of Florida.
- Owning, using, possessing, or holding a mortgage or other lien on any real property within the State of Florida.
- Contracting to insure a person, property, or risk located within this state at the time of contracting.
- With respect to a proceeding for alimony, child support, or division of property in connection with an action to dissolve a marriage or with respect to an independent action for support of dependents, maintaining a matrimonial domicile in the State of Florida at the time of the commencement of this action or, if the defendant resided in this state preceding the commencement of the action, whether cohabiting during that time or not. This paragraph does not change the residency requirement for filing an action for dissolution of marriage.
- Causing injury to persons or property within the State of Florida arising out of an act or omission by the defendant outside the State of Florida, if, at or about the time of the injury, either: a. the defendant was engaged in solicitation or service activities within this state; or b. products, materials, or things processed, serviced, or manufactured by the defendant anywhere were used or consumed within this state in the ordinary course of commerce, trade, or use.
- Breaching a contract in the State of Florida by failing to perform acts required by the contract to be performed in this state.
- With respect to a proceeding for paternity, engaging in the act of sexual intercourse within this state with respect to which a child may have been conceived.
- Entering into a contract that complies with Florida Statute § 685.102. (Florida Statute § 685.102 provides in part that: “notwithstanding any law that limits the right of a person to maintain an action or proceeding, any person may, to the extent permitted under the United States Constitution, maintain in this state an action or proceeding against any person or other entity residing or located outside this state, if the action or proceeding arises out of or relates to any contract, agreement, or undertaking for which a choice of the law of this state, in whole or in part, has been made pursuant to Florida Statute 685.101 and which contains a provision by which such person or other entity residing or located outside this state agrees to submit to the jurisdiction of the courts of this state.”)
Florida Statute § 48.193(2), provides that “[a] defendant who is engaged in substantial and not isolated activity within this state … is subject to the jurisdiction of the courts of this state, whether or not the claim arises from that activity.” An assertion of general jurisdiction under this provision requires a “showing of continuous and systematic general business contacts” with this state.
If either specific or general jurisdiction is met pursuant to Florida Statute § 48.193 are met, Federal Due Process concerns require that the nonresident have certain “minimum contacts” with the forum state such that maintenance of the suit does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.
Factors used in determining sufficient minimum contacts include the foreseeability that a defendant’s conduct will result in suit in Florida and a defendant’s purposeful availment of Florida’s privileges and protections.
Fair Play and Substantial Justice
Additionally, a plaintiff must show that maintenance of the suit in Florida will not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.
Therefore, the procedure to determine whether personal jurisdiction exists over a foreign defendant in Florida is a two part inquiry. First, a court must determine that the facts of the underlying action fall within Florida’s long-arm statute, Florida Statute § 48.193. Second, a court must determine whether the defendant has sufficient “minimum contacts” with Florida such that the due process requirements of the Fourteenth Amendment are satisfied.
Contact the Attorneys at Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A.
If you are involved in a civil or commercial lawsuit, or have questions regarding whether you have a case, contact the civil litigation and commercial litigation attorneys at Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. today. Our experienced litigation lawyers will provide a consultation and review your case.