Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Failure To Make Payment In Florida Does Not (Without More) Allow Court to Exercise Personal Jurisdiction

In Cornerstone Investment Funding v. Painted Post Group (4D15-1907), the Fourth District reviewed a trial court's order denying a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. The procedural history is somewhat unique but the holding is not. After conducting an evidentiary hearing, the trial judge "concluded that Post Group had established both jurisdictional facts and minimum contacts between Cornerstone and Florida sufficient to assert personal jurisdiction over Cornerstone."

The Fourth District noted that to satisfy the requirements of personal jurisdiction, you must satisfy a two-pronged test. Specifically, personal jurisdiction may be exercised only when:
(1) the complaint alleges facts that would subject the defendant to Florida’s “long- arm” statute, and (2) the defendant has sufficient “minimum contacts” to meet traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice such that the defendant could ‘“reasonably anticipate being haled into court’” due to its actions. Venetian Salami Co. v. Parthenais, 554 So. 2d 499, 501 (Fla. 1989) (quoting World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 297 (1980)); Henderson v. Elias, 56 So. 3d 86 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011). 
In this case, the plaintiff satisfied the first prong because "failure to pay on a contract requiring payment in Florida has been found sufficient to satisfy Florida’s long-arm statute conferring jurisdiction over breach of contract actions. Smith Architectural Grp., Inc. v. Dehaan, 867 So. 2d 434, 436 (Fla. 4th DCA 2004)."

However, the plaintiff failed to satisfy the second prong. The court stated:
The mere fact, however, that Cornerstone allegedly breached a contract by failing to make payments on the contract in Florida would not constitute sufficient minimum contacts with this state to satisfy due process. Taskey v. Burtis, 785 So. 2d 557, 559 (Fla. 4th DCA 2001) (“Factors that go into determining whether sufficient minimum contacts exist include the foreseeability that the defendant’s conduct will result in suit in the forum state and the defendant’s purposeful availment of the forum’s privileges and protections.”); Labry v. Whitney Nat’l Bank, 8 So. 3d 1239, 1241 (Fla. 1st DCA 2009); Ganiko v. Ganiko, 826 So. 2d 391, 394- 95 (Fla. 1st DCA 2002). As neither Post Group’s amended complaint nor Goldin’s hearing testimony showed that any act beyond repayment of the promissory note was required to be performed in Florida, Cornerstone does not have sufficient minimum contacts with this state to support the assertion of personal jurisdiction over it. 


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