Monday, December 2, 2013

Agents of Domestic Corporations Cannot Be Used To Establish Venue

In Sunshine State Insurance Company v. Patricia Munoz-Upton and Rick Fox-Upton (3D13–0573), the Third District reversed an order denying a motion to transfer venue. The dispute related to an insurance loss for property located in Palm Beach County. “The unrebutted record in this case is that although insurance agents statewide write Sunshine State policies, Sunshine State itself keeps an office for the transaction of its customary business only in Duval, and not in Miami-Dade County.”

The insured argued that Miami-Dade was a proper venue because the insurer has agents in the county. The court disagreed and stated that “this method of conducting business through an agent does not make venue proper in an action against a domestic corporation wherever such agents are located because ‘the statutory provisions concerning an agent apply to foreign corporations only.’”

“The appropriate test is whether venue has been lodged in the county where the domestic corporation has an office for transaction of its customary business, here, Duval County. Alternatively, venue may be proper where the cause of action accrued or where the property at issue is located, here, Palm Beach County.”

In this case, venue was proper in Palm Beach, and not Miami-Dade and the trial court’s order was reversed.


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