Fourth District Finds Appellee Failed to Refute Contested Jurisdiction

Kent v. Marmorstein, 4D13-386 (Fla. 4th DCA 2013):

The issue presented for the Fourth District’s review was whether the trial court erred by failing to dismiss the lawsuit for lack of personal jurisdiction. Marmorstein, a Florida resident, filed a complaint against Kent, a Michigan resident. Marmorstein alleged that he loaned Kent’s son $185,000 and that Kent personally guaranteed repayment. Marmorstein claimed that Kent signed a guarantee. The guarantee stated it would be governed by the laws of the State of Florida and that in the event of litigation, Broward County, Florida shall serve as venue. Kent denied having signed any contract.

Kent filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. She alleged that the complaint failed to satisfy Florida’s long-arm statute and failed to establish sufficient minimum contacts between Kent and Florida. Kent submitted an affidavit stating that she resides in Michigan, does not own property or conduct business in Florida, and that she did not sign or review the guarantee. Marmorstein filed an unsworn response claiming that Kent agreed to jurisdiction and venue in Broward County. The trial court denied Kent’s motion to dismiss.

In order to establish personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant, the plaintiff must satisfy a two-part test. The plaintiff must allege sufficient jurisdictional facts to satisfy Florida’s long-arm statute and the plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant had sufficient minimum contacts with Florida to satisfy due process requirements. Venetian Salami Co. v. Parthenais, 554 So. 2d 499, 502 (Fla. 1989). By filing only an unsworn response, Marmorstein failed to meet his burden to demonstrate jurisdiction. The Fourth District found that the trial court erred.