In Litigation, News & Updates

Earlier this year, State Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla introduced a bill that would allow international disputes to be handled in Florida. CS/SB 186 addresses personal jurisdiction in the Florida courts. Presently, Florida courts rely on the State’s long-arm statute to exercise jurisdiction over foreign defendants; if a court finds a jurisdictional basis under the statute to assert personal jurisdiction, it will determine whether “minimum contacts” exist in the forum so that initiating a proceeding against the defendant does not “offend traditional notions of fair play and justice.” CS/SB 186 creates Florida Statutes s. 684.009, which provides:

“The initiation of arbitration in this state, or the making of a written contract, agreement, or undertaking to arbitrate which provides for arbitration in this state, constitutes a consent to exercise in personam jurisdiction by the courts of this state in any action arising out of or in connection with the arbitration and any resulting order or award.”

The bill also clarifies that foreign judgments issued by the U.S. territories are entitled to full faith and credit in Florida under the Florida Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act. Currently, foreign judgments from other states may be enforced in Florida upon being recorded in the office of the clerk of the circuit court of any county, but the Act is silent as to whether judgments from U.S. territories or possessions are entitled to full faith and credit.

This is the second consecutive year that legislators in Florida have sought to expand personal jurisdiction in the State; in 2012, the Florida Legislature passed a similar bill (HB 917). Governor Rick Scott vetoed the bill on the basis that the expansion of jurisdiction to allow individuals and entities with no ties to Florida to utilize its courts would add to the backlog of cases, increase the workload on the judicial system, and create an “unattractive” business climate for Florida.

Attorneys in WSH’s Litigation Division are experienced in a variety of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) techniques, including binding arbitration and non-binding mediation, and Florida’s unique “Summary Jury Trial” process. These methods are often used to settle disputes without exposing clients to the risk, time, and expense of a trial. Our litigators also thrive in courtroom settings, and have successfully prosecuted and defended a wide variety of general commercial and business dispute issues in both individual and class action settings, including those establishing law in the areas of breach of contract, breach of warranties, breach of fiduciary duty, business torts, deceptive and unfair trade practices, fraudulent transfers, and securities.

Author(s): Brooke P. Dolara

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