Personal Jurisdiction – Long-Arm Statute or Alter Ego Theory?

By Michael P. Sampson (part 4 of 8)

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A spouse attempting to bring in a corporate entity or trust under Florida’s long arm statute must pass a two-part test for establishing personal jurisdiction. 

In the alternative, a spouse may assert personal jurisdiction is established because the entity is merely the “alter ego” of the other spouse. Personal jurisdiction refers to whether the actions of an individual or business entity permit the Florida court to exercise jurisdiction in a lawsuit naming the individual or business entity. See Borden v. East-European Ins. Co., 921 So. 2d 587, 591 (Fla. 2006)See generally section 48.193, Florida StatutesWhite v. Pepsico, Inc., 568 So. 2d 886, 888 (Fla.1990)Venetian Salami Co. v. Parthenais, 554 So. 2d 499, 500 (Fla.1989) (to subject a defendant to personal jurisdiction, “due process requires that the defendant have certain minimum contacts with the forum”).

First prong: Specific Jurisdiction or General Jurisdiction

Long arm jurisdiction over a foreign corporation or entity may be specific See sections 48.193(1)(a)-(h), Florida Statutes (where the defendant either “personally or through an agent does any of the acts enumerated in those subsections”) or general see section 48.193(2), Florida Statutes (where the defendant is “engaged in substantial and not isolated activity”). See Marina Dodge, Inc. v. Quinn, 134 So. 3d 1103 (Fla. 4th DCA 2014)(good analysis of specific and general jurisdiction, resulting in reversal of order denying motion to dismiss personal injury suit for lack of personal jurisdiction).

If an entity’s contacts with Florida are also the basis for the suit, those contacts may establish specific jurisdiction. See section 48.193(1)(a)-(h), Florida StatutesMarina Dodge, Inc. v. Quinn, 134 So. 3d 1103, 1108 (Fla. 4th DCA 2014) (affidavits revealed few contacts between Florida and the defendant, which had engaged in isolated transactions with Florida companies, mostly over the Internet, without having targeted Florida for business); Caiazzo v. American Royal Arts Corp., 73 So. 3d 245, 255-56 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011) (applying traditional minimum contacts analysis, whether or not the Internet is involved); Canale v. Rubin, 20 So. 3d 463, 467 (Fla. 2d DCA 2009)

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In determining specific jurisdiction, courts consider (1) the extent to which the defendant purposefully availed itself of the privilege of conducting activities in Florida; (2) whether the claims arise out of those activities directed at Florida; and (3) whether the defendant’s contacts with Florida are so the defendant should reasonably anticipate being brought into court in Florida. See Corporacion Aero Angeles, S.A. v. Fernandez, 69 So.3d 295, 299 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011).

But if an entity’s contacts with Florida are not also the basis for the claims, jurisdiction must arise from the entity’s general, more persistent, but unrelated contacts with Florida. Fla. Stat. §48.193(2).


Read More

Part 1: Florida Family Law 2021: Corporate and Trust Challenges to Service of Process and Jurisdiction

Part 2: Challenge to Personal Jurisdiction: Service of Process

Part 3: Family Law Pleadings Must Allege Basis for Personal Jurisdiction Over the Entity

Part 5: Long-Arm Jurisdiction: Specific or General?

Part 6: Alter Ego Basis for Jurisdiction in Florida Family Law Action

Part 7: Jurisdiction Over Property At Issue in Florida Divorce

Part 8: Challenges to Jurisdiction in Florida Family Law Action: Affidavits

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