Gibbons v. Brown

716 So. 2d 868 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1998)

 

RULE:

As a general rule in Florida, a plaintiff, by bringing an action, subjects himself or herself to the jurisdiction of the court and to subsequent lawful orders entered regarding the same subject matter of that action.

FACTS:

Appellee, a resident of Florida, brought a personal injury action in Florida court against appellant, a resident of Texas, for injuries resulting from a motor vehicle accident that occurred in Montreal, Canada. In her Complaint, appellee sought the exercise of the long-arm jurisdiction of the court on appellant, who apparently had filed an earlier case in the State. She contended that appellant voluntarily submitted himself to personal jurisdiction to Florida courts when she earlier filed a case.  Appellant filed a motion to have service of process quashed or, alternatively, to dismiss the complaint of appellee for failure to allege ultimate facts sufficient to establish the exercise of the long-arm jurisdiction of the court over appellant under Fla. Stat. ch. 48.193(2). When the motion was denied, appellant sought review.

ISSUE:

Does a litigant submit himself to personal jurisdiction of state courts for unrelated matters merely by filing an earlier case in said state?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

The court reversed and ordered the complaint of appellee dismissed, finding that appellant was not engaged in any activity within the state except the defense of the litigation. Although appellant had filed an earlier action in Florida, that filing did not subject appellant to the jurisdiction of the Florida courts for all time, and appellant had no minimum contacts within the state to make the exercise of such jurisdiction reasonable or within traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.

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