Friday, January 1, 2010

Email Sent Into Florida Subjects Defendant To Personal Jurisdiction When Suit Relates To Email

In Price v. Kronenberger (5D09-667), the Fifth District reversed the trial court's decision dismissing an action for lack of personal jurisdiction.  The defendant was subject to jurisdiction based upon the facts alleged in the complaint because the defendant sent an email targeted at the state of Florida and the lawsuit was directly related to the email.  The court set out the facts as follows:
Price and John F. Kronenberger, Appellee, were members of the Korean War Veteran's Association (hereinafter "KWVA"). About a year after being expelled from the KWVA, Kronenberger, an Illinois resident, sent an e-mail to various members informing them that Price, a Florida resident, earned his law degree from a "correspondence school where you send in a check and they send you a degree. Monticello is an Internet University that grants Juris Doctor degrees with no schooling required." The email also stated, "After a call to the American Bar Association it was learned that there is no Monticello School of Law accredited in the US." This e-mail was received by members throughout the country, some of whom live in Florida. Price attached this email to his complaint when he sued Kronenberger for defamation.
The court held that:
Section 48.193(1)(b) provides specific long-arm jurisdiction over a nonresident who commits a tortious act in this state. A complaint that alleges a nonresident committed a tortious act based on communications directed into Florida telephonically, electronically, or in writing sufficiently alleges personal jurisdiction under section 48.193(1)(b)....By publishing the e-mail in Florida and directing the defamatory comments at a Florida resident, Kronenberger established minimum contacts with this state.
In summary, the court stated:
Based on the foregoing, we find that Price's complaint sufficiently alleged facts to support personal jurisdiction over Kronenberger and that by sending the e-mail into Florida, Kronenberger established sufficient minimum contacts such that he could reasonably anticipate being haled into a Florida court.1 Consequently, we reverse the final judgment dismissing Price's complaint and remand for proceedings consistent with this opinion.


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