Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Fourth District finds No Personal Jurisdiction Over Out of State Lawyer

In Hirsch v. Weitz (4D08-3495), the Fourth District reversed the trial court's order finding it had jurisdiction over a New York attorney.

When reviewing a decision finding personal jurisdiction, the district courts apply a de novo review. A two part test is applied: "First, the facts of the underlying action must bring it within the ambit of the Florida long arm statute...Second, the defendant must have sufficient 'minimum contacts' with Florida such that due process requirements are satisfied...Due process is satisfied where the foreign defendant would reasonably anticipate being haled into court in Florida."

In this case, the "actions which Weitz alleges constitute legal malpractice occurred primarily in New York for the purpose of finalizing a New York divorce which necessarily involved selling Weitz’s New York business...The necessary legal work was performed in New York by Hirsch, a New York lawyer, and the settlement agreement and final judgment of divorce were entered by a New York court."

"The alleged acts of legal malpractice in the present case did not cause Weitz to be injured in Florida. Weitz’s injury was sustained, if at all, in New York when the New York court entered a judgment against him. Thus, the tort of legal malpractice accrued, if at all, in New York, and a Florida court cannot properly exercise jurisdiction over Hirsch."

"Because Hirsch’s actions do not come within the ambit of Florida’s long-arm statute, a discussion of whether his contacts with Florida satisfy due process requirements is unnecessary."


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