Friday, March 11, 2011

Order Finding Personal Jurisdiction Over Subsidiary Reversed

In Reynolds American, Inc. v. Gero (3D10-2066), the Third District reversed the trial court's order denying a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. The court stated "Because we agree that there are insufficient jurisdictional facts to bring this action within the purview of Florida's long-arm statute, we reverse." The court reviewed the applicable test that is to be applied to a personal jurisdiction question as follows:
In Venetian Salami Co., the Florida Supreme Court set forth the procedure for determining whether personal jurisdiction over a foreign corporation is appropriate. This two-step inquiry requires a the trial court to first determine whether sufficient jurisdictional facts exist to bring the action within the ambit of Florida's long-arm statute (section 48.193), and then to determine whether the foreign corporation possesses sufficient “minimum contacts” with Florida to satisfy federal constitutional due process requirements. Venetian Salami Co., 554 So. 2d at 502.
Applying the test to this case, the court stated
In this case, Gero alleged specific jurisdiction over RAI and RGP on an agency theory, claiming that RJR, acting as RAI and RGP's agent, committed a tortious act in Florida, see § 48.193(1)(b), Fla. Stat. (2010), and breached a contract in Florida. See § 48.193(1)(g), Fla. Stat. (2010)......According to Gero, who concededly “never dealt” with RAI or RGP while in Florida or elsewhere, RAI and RGP are subject to personal jurisdiction in Miami-Dade County because RJR, RAI, and RGP are all agents of one another. More particularly, Gero claims that these entities are all agents of one another....
With regard to the agency claims, "An agency relationship exists where the following are demonstrated: “1) acknowledgment by the principal that the agent will act for it; 2) the agent's acceptance of the undertaking; and 3) control by the principal over the action of the agent....None of these elements is alleged or demonstrated to exist here.”

Ultimately, the court concluded "In short, we agree with RAI and RGP that insufficient jurisdictional facts exist to confer personal jurisdiction over them under Florida's long-arm statute. While this conclusion makes it unnecessary to address the constitutional prong of Venetian Salami Co., we nonetheless note that even if the undisputed facts fell within the ambit of section 48.193, RAI and RGP's conduct would still not be such that they should reasonably anticipate being haled into court in Florida."


Post a Comment