Thursday, April 28, 2011

Fourth District Reverses Order Finding Personal Jurisdiction Because No Contacts With Florida

In Corporacion Aero Angeles v. Fernandez (4D09-4997), the Fourth District reversed a trial court's order and concluded that personal jurisdiction cannot be constitutionally exercised over the appellee. "This case arises out of the breach of an oral brokerage agreement for the sale of a jet owned by Aero Angeles, a Mexican Corporation. The plaintiff, Jaime Gaston Fernandez, claims that he was not paid a commission in connection with the sale and filed suit seeking damages from Aero Angeles.  The corporation contends that it did not enter into a contract to pay him a commission."

As with any personal jurisdiction issue, the contacts with the state of Florida were analyzed-or lack of contacts. The court stated:
The jet was headquartered in Mexico and was never offered for charter flights to Florida or for Florida residents. Palero testified that the company had no type of business in Florida. The company did not have employees, offices, phone listings, bank accounts, leases or sales in Florida. It did not engage in business in Florida and did not register to do business in the state. It did not have an agent in Florida for service of process and never paid Florida taxes. The company did not bring paying passengers to Florida.
With regard to the law and the requirements necessary to satisfy personal jurisdiction, the Court stated:
Stated another way, to satisfy the minimum contacts requirement for purposes of personal jurisdiction a defendant’s contacts (1) must be related to the plaintiff’s cause of action or have given rise to it, (2) must involve some act by which the defendant has purposefully availed itself of the privilege of conducting activities within the forum, and (3) the defendant’s contacts with the forum must be such that the defendant should reasonably anticipate being haled into court there.
In this case, the Fourth District determined that "none of the three criteria for minimum contacts has been satisfied." Therefore:
We conclude that the appellant has not shown that jurisdiction can be constitutionally asserted over Aero Angeles. Specific jurisdiction based upon minimum contacts between Aero Angeles and Florida has not been established. Reversed with directions to dismiss the cause of action for lack of jurisdiction.
On June 29, 2011, the Fourth District released an opinion denying rehearing but adding a paragraph to its original opinion. That additional information can be viewed HERE


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