Florida Court Explains Jurisdiction Over Out of State Defendants

It is not uncommon for a person to be injured in an accident while traveling in another state, or for a crash to involve multiple parties that all reside in different parts of the country. While people injured in accidents have the right to file lawsuits against the parties that caused the accident in the courts of their choosing, whether a court can exercise jurisdiction over an individual’s lawsuit will depend on numerous factors, including where the accident occurred and the activities of the defendant within the state. If you were hurt in a collision while you were in another state, it is advisable to speak to a trusted Florida personal injury attorney to discuss your options for seeking compensation.

Facts and Procedural History

It is reported that the plaintiff, who is a resident of Florida, was riding a motorcycle in New Hampshire when he was rear-ended by a truck owned by the defendant company and operated by the defendant driver. The plaintiff suffered significant injuries and financial losses, after which he filed a lawsuit in Florida, asserting negligence claims against the defendants. The defendants moved the case to federal court on the basis of diversity and filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the court lacked personal jurisdiction over the defendants. Upon review, the court granted the motion.

Personal Jurisdiction Under Florida Law

In order for a federal court to exercise personal jurisdiction over an out of state defendant in a case in which jurisdiction is premised on diversity, personal jurisdiction must be permissible under the state’s long-arm statute, and the exercise of jurisdiction must comply with the due process rights granted by the Constitution. Exercising personal jurisdiction will comport with due process if the defendant has established sufficient contacts with the forum, so that allowing the plaintiff to maintain the suit does not offend the ideas of substantial justice and fair play.

The plaintiff bears the burden of setting forth allegations in the complaint that are adequate, in and of themselves, to demonstrate that a court can rightfully exercise jurisdiction. In other words, the complaint must contain sufficient facts to support long-arm jurisdiction before the burden shifts to the defendant to show that the long-arm statute is inapplicable. If the defendant meets this burden, the plaintiff must then support the allegations in the complaint through affidavits or other proof, and cannot defeat a defendant’s motion by merely repeating the allegations in the complaint.

In the subject case, the court agreed with the defendants’ assertions that the plaintiff’s complaint lacked facts that would bring the action under the long-arm statute, in that neither defendant was engaged in any activity within the state. As such, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint.

Meet with a Proficient Florida Attorney

While people injured in accidents have the right to pursue damages, it is essential that they choose the proper court to proceed with claims against the parties that caused their harm. If you were hurt in a collision, the proficient Florida personal injury attorneys of Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, P.A. can assess the circumstances surrounding your accident and help you develop a plan to pursue any damages you may be owed. We can be contacted at 800-283-7442 or through the form online to set up a conference.

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