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By Debra P. Klauber, Esq. 

APPELLATE COURT REQUIRES NEW UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT STANDARD FOR DETERMINING WHETHER GENERAL JURISDICTION CAN BE EXERCISED OVER A FOREIGN CORPORATION, EVEN ONE WITH AN OFFICE IN FLORIDA WHERE IT EMPLOYS FLORIDA RESIDENTS AND SERVES FLORIDA CLIENTS.

Imperial Capital, LLC v Tradewinds, LLC, 4D18-3709, 44 Fla. L. Weekly D2202 (Fla. 4th DCA Aug. 28, 2019).

The question of general jurisdiction over a foreign corporation depends on whether the corporation has sufficient contacts with the state to satisfy due process requirements. Since the United States Supreme Court has recently heightened the constitutional standard, the appellate court here rejected the trial court’s inquiry that focused on whether the corporation’s contacts with the state were “continuous and systematic.” Now, the law requires those contacts to be “so continuous and systematic as to render [the corporation] essentially at home in the forum State.” The matter was remanded for the trial court to apply the new due process standard.

WHERE NON-RESIDENT CORPORATIONS AGREED TO JURISDICTION IN FLORIDA, THE CONTRACT CONFERRED JURISDICTION ON FLORIDA COURTS AND WAS NOT JUST A CHOICE OF LAW PROVISION.

Ancla Int’l, S.A. v. Tribeca Asset Mgmt., Inc., 3D18-1078, 44 Fla. L. Weekly D2189 (Fla. 3d DCA Aug. 28, 2019).

Where two non-resident entities agreed to personal jurisdiction in Florida, irrespective of the fact that the work performed under the agreement would occur in Columbia, the parties accepted the power of Florida courts to enforce the agreement. The provision subjected both parties to personal jurisdiction.

LOCAL SCHOOL BOARDS LOSE BATTLE TO CHALLENGE LEGISLATION COMPELLING THE USE OF PUBLIC FUNDS FOR CHARTER SCHOOLS.

School Board of Collier County v. Florida Dep’t of Education, 1D18-2072, 44 Fla. L. Weekly D2210 (Fla. 1st DCA Aug. 29, 2019).

The First District Court of Appeal rejected a number of school boards’ constitutional challenge to certain provisions of a new law, which mandated the use of certain funds for local charter schools. The school boards claimed that the new law violated their right to operate, control and supervise all free public schools in Florida. The court first concluded that the school boards only had standing to challenge two provisions of the law, those which applied to capital mileage and federal Title I funds. However, even with standing, the court found that the school boards’ constitutional challenges failed as a matter of law. The court rejected the school boards’ claim that the new law removed their discretion over financial decisions by imposing strict limits on how they spend the tax dollars they raise and how they utilize certain federal funds. Ultimately, the court concluded that the legislature can place certain duties, with respect to public funds, on the local school boards, particularly where those charter schools primarily serve a local function.

APPELLATE COURT REFUSES TO APPLY THE “APEX DOCTRINE” TO PRIVATE CORPORATIONS.

Suzuki Motor Corp. v. Winckler, 1D18-4815, 44 Fla. L. Weekly D2219 (Fla. 1st DCA Aug. 29, 2019).

In this case, the plaintiff, who was paralyzed in a motorcycle crash, asserted a products liability claim against Suzuki claiming that the accident was caused by defective brakes. He sought to take the deposition of the Chairman of the Board in Japan, claiming that he possessed unique knowledge about the case.

Suzuki sought a protective order with an affidavit explaining that the Chairman did not have any independent memory or personal knowledge of the issue regarding the brakes or the lawsuit. The trial court refused to apply the apex doctrine outside of the governmental context, found that the Chairman had personal knowledge and could provide relevant testimony, and allowed the deposition to move forward. The First District denied Suzuki’s petition for writ of certiorari. One judge did write a lengthy dissent, arguing that the apex doctrine “is and must” be equally applicable in the private sector as it is in the government context.

LAW REMAINS HAZY ON WHETHER FALLS CONSTITUTE ORDINARY NEGLIGENCE OR MEDICAL MALPRACTICE, AS THE DETERMINATION REMAINS CASE SPECIFIC.

North Broward Hospital Dist. v. Slushee, 4D19-1868, 44 Fla. L. Weekly D2126 (Fla. 4th DCA Aug. 21, 2019); McManus v. Gamez, 2D18-2371, 44 Fla. L Weekly D2010 (Fla. 2d DCA, Aug. 7, 2019).

Where a nurse allegedly causes a patient to fall while helping the patient out of his bed, the case sounds in medical negligence. However, where a patient falls off of a bed in a physician’s office after being left unattended on an examination table, it is considered ordinary negligence. Since the patient in the first instance must rely on the professional standard of care that applies to nurses transferring patients from beds, that patient must satisfy the medical malpractice pre-suit screening requirements, even where the exercise of that professional judgment also involves common sense. But where there are no medical services being provided to the second patient, dismissal for the failure to timely comply with the medical malpractice pre-suit requirements is improper. It seems the Florida Supreme Court’s determination that cases arising out of hospital bed falls are, indeed, “gray area” claims.

PARENTS OF CHILD WITH BIRTH-RELATED NEUROLOGICAL INJURY PERMITTED TO DISMISS THEIR PETITION BEFORE BENEFITS WERE CONFERRED IN ORDER TO PURSUE CIVIL CLAIM.

Florida Birth-Related Neurological Injury Comp Ass’n v. Jimenez, 3D18-1814, 44 Fla. L. Weekly D2193 (Fla. 3d DCA Aug. 28, 2019).

After the administrative law judge determined that claim was com Pensabene under NICA, parents who had filed NICA petition “under protest” were permitted to withdraw their petition before the compensation determination itself. Parents retained the right to pursue a civil suit at any time before the determination of an award.

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