a website for classes taught by William H. Widen

FALL 2016

*INTRODUCTION TO UNITED STATES LAW--Discussion Problem No. 2--Jurisdiction and Venue
    --Last Modified: Thursday, 11-Aug-2016 11:02:05 EDT

Discussion Problem No. 2—Jurisdiction and Venue


Able, a natural person, is a citizen of Florida, residing in Miami-Dade County. Brown, a natural person, is a citizen of Georgia residing in Fulton County. Able and Brown entered into a contract for the sale of widgets, which they executed and delivered during a meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. The widgets were to be sold by Brown to Able, for delivery at Brown's factory in Georgia. Able intended to drive its delivery truck to Georgia to pick up the widgets at Brown's factory.

The purchase price for these widgets was exactly $75,000. This was a bargain price. Unfortunately for Able, Brown breached its contract of sale. Able diligently tried to make an alternative purchase and, in good faith, was only able to find replacement widgets for a price of $200,000, which Able purchased from another supplier in a covering transaction.

It is stipulated that neither this contract nor the breach had a connection to the state of Florida. However, independent of the transaction with Able, Brown has numerous connections to Florida. Brown sells many goods for delivery in Florida to other customers (on occasion, Brown has personally delivered goods to northern Florida using his truck if a customer offers to pay him extra). And, Brown purchases many components from sellers in Florida, sometimes traveling to Florida (including the Port of Miami) to inspect products for purchase prior to placing an order. Indeed, Brown sometimes drives to Florida to pick up components. As Brown's business has grown, Brown recently signed a 10 year lease for space in a warehouse located in Miami-Dade County, near the Port of Miami. Brown uses this warehouse space to store components that he orders from overseas suppliers prior to Brown arranging for transportation of those components to his workshop in Atlanta.

Questions Presented

1. On these facts, in what courts might Able file a complaint against Brown for breach of contract?

2. Are there any additional courts in which the case might end up being adjudicated besides the court in which Able initially files his complaint against Brown?

3. Assume Able drafted the purchase contract with Brown. Are there any provisions which Able might have included in the contract to settle, in advance, in what court or courts a contract dispute might be resolved? (Assume Able has a preference to conduct any litigation in Florida.)

4. How would the answers to questions 1 and 2 change, if at all, if Brown were not a natural person but instead was Brown, Inc., a corporation formed under the laws of Georgia?

5. How would the answers to questions 1 and 2 change, if at all, if Brown were a natural person but a citizen of Florida, residing in Orlando, instead of a citizen of Georgia? (Assume the contract was executed and delivered in Orlando, and that Brown's factory was located, and the delivery of widgets was to take place, in Orlando.)

Hints on Structure of Answer

For Question 1, make sure you consider which courts may have subject matter jurisdiction over Able's complaint. Then consider which courts may assert personal jurisdiction over Brown. Finally, consider whether the possible courts you have identified have proper venue over the action. In Lecture 5, you were introduced to various federal statutes governing aspects of jurisdiction and venue. You should know that Florida has its own long-arm statute and a statute governing proper venue in a Florida court (as linked above and appearing below).

Fla. St. Title VI, chap. 47

47.011  Where actions may be begun.—Actions shall be brought only in the county where the defendant resides, where the cause of action accrued, or where the property in litigation is located. This section shall not apply to actions against nonresidents.

History.—s. 7, Nov. 21, 1829; s. 1, ch. 3721, 1887; RS 998; GS 1383; RGS 2579; CGL 4219; s. 24, ch. 57-1; s. 12, ch. 63-572; s. 6, ch. 65-1; s. 3, ch. 67-254; s. 11, ch. 73-334.

Note.—Former s. 46.01.

Fla. St. Title VI, chap. 48

48.193  Acts subjecting person to jurisdiction of courts of state.

(1)(a)  A person, whether or not a citizen or resident of this state, who personally or through an agent does any of the acts enumerated in this subsection thereby submits himself or herself and, if he or she is a natural person, his or her personal representative to the jurisdiction of the courts of this state for any cause of action arising from any of the following acts:

1.  Operating, conducting, engaging in, or carrying on a business or business venture in this state or having an office or agency in this state.

2.  Committing a tortious act within this state.

3.  Owning, using, possessing, or holding a mortgage or other lien on any real property within this state.

4.  Contracting to insure a person, property, or risk located within this state at the time of contracting.

5.  With respect to a proceeding for alimony, child support, or division of property in connection with an action to dissolve a marriage or with respect to an independent action for support of dependents, maintaining a matrimonial domicile in this state at the time of the commencement of this action or, if the defendant resided in this state preceding the commencement of the action, whether cohabiting during that time or not. This paragraph does not change the residency requirement for filing an action for dissolution of marriage.

6.  Causing injury to persons or property within this state arising out of an act or omission by the defendant outside this state, if, at or about the time of the injury, either:

a.  The defendant was engaged in solicitation or service activities within this state; or

b.  Products, materials, or things processed, serviced, or manufactured by the defendant anywhere were used or consumed within this state in the ordinary course of commerce, trade, or use.

7.  Breaching a contract in this state by failing to perform acts required by the contract to be performed in this state.

8.  With respect to a proceeding for paternity, engaging in the act of sexual intercourse within this state with respect to which a child may have been conceived.

9.  Entering into a contract that complies with s. 685.102.

(b)  Notwithstanding any other provision of this subsection, an order issued, or a penalty or fine imposed, by an agency of another state is not enforceable against any person or entity incorporated or having its principal place of business in this state if the other state does not provide a mandatory right of review of the agency decision in a state court of competent jurisdiction.

(2)  A defendant who is engaged in substantial and not isolated activity within this state, whether such activity is wholly interstate, intrastate, or otherwise, is subject to the jurisdiction of the courts of this state, whether or not the claim arises from that activity.

(3)  Service of process upon any person who is subject to the jurisdiction of the courts of this state as provided in this section may be made by personally serving the process upon the defendant outside this state, as provided in s. 48.194. The service shall have the same effect as if it had been personally served within this state.

(4)  If a defendant in his or her pleadings demands affirmative relief on causes of action unrelated to the transaction forming the basis of the plaintiff’s claim, the defendant shall thereafter in that action be subject to the jurisdiction of the court for any cause of action, regardless of its basis, which the plaintiff may by amendment assert against the defendant.

(5)  Nothing contained in this section limits or affects the right to serve any process in any other manner now or hereinafter provided by law.

History.—s. 1, ch. 73-179; s. 3, ch. 84-2; s. 3, ch. 88-176; s. 3, ch. 93-250; s. 281, ch. 95-147; s. 1, ch. 2013-164; s. 2, ch. 2016-207.

Last Modified: Thursday, 11-Aug-2016 11:02:05 EDT