United States District Court, S.D. Florida
P. GAYLES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
CAUSE came before the Court upon Defendant, Fabian
Bonilla, M.D.'s, Limited Appearance for the Purpose of
Moving to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint
for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction [ECF No. 133]. The Court
has reviewed the Motion and the record and is otherwise fully
advised. Based thereon, the Court grants the Motion.
Diane Ure (“Mrs. Ure”) and Thomas Ure, Jr.
(“Mr. Ure”) were passengers aboard Defendant
Oceania Cruises, Inc.'s (“Oceania”) ship when
Mrs. Ure fell ill. Defendant Fabian Bonilla, M.D. (“Dr.
Bonilla”), Oceania's ship physician, treated Mrs.
Ure for a gastrointestinal illness. After several days, Mrs.
Ure's condition deteriorated, necessitating emergency
medical treatment. Oceania recommended Bay View Hospital in
Barbados and arranged for Mrs. Ure's transfer and
on-shore treatment. Bay View mismanaged Mrs. Ure's
treatment and/or was unable to adequately provide emergency
care. Mrs. Ure suffered permanent injury, and later died,
from her illness.
November 25, 2014, Plaintiffs filed their Second Amended
Complaint against Defendants. Dr. Bonilla has moved to dismiss
arguing that this Court does not have personal jurisdiction
Dr. Bonilla's Contact with Florida
Bonilla is a citizen of Ecuador. Although he works and
resides onboard ships, his permanent address is in Ecuador.
For the past eighteen years, Dr. Bonilla has been employed by
two cruise ship companies, including Oceania, with their
principal places of business in Miami, Florida. Dr.
Bonilla's employment agreement with Oceania requires him
to resolve all disputes relating to the agreement in Florida.
Oceania interviewed, hired, and pays Dr. Bonilla and makes
his ship assignments in and from its Miami offices.
Bonilla does not own or rent property in Florida. He does,
however, have a bank account and corresponding credit card
with Wells Fargo Bank, which he opened in Key West using a
friend's address in Hialeah, Florida. He later changed
the address on his Wells Fargo account to another
friend's address in Key Biscayne, Florida. Dr. Bonilla
has never resided at the Hialeah or Key Biscayne addresses.
He has written checks bearing the Hialeah and/or Key Biscayne
addresses. Dr. Bonilla signed an agreement with Wells Fargo
agreeing to resolve any disputes over his account in Florida.
Bonilla attended periodic training in Florida. He has also
communicated with Oceania and independent medical providers
located in Florida while performing his duties aboard a ship.
I. Standard of Review
plaintiff seeking to establish personal jurisdiction over a
nonresident defendant ‘bears the initial burden of
alleging in the complaint sufficient facts to make out a
prima facie case of jurisdiction.'” Louis
Vuitton Malletier, S.A. v. Mosseri, 736 F.3d 1339, 1350
(11th Cir. 2013) (quoting United Techs. Corp. v.
Mazer, 556 F.3d 1260, 1274 (11th Cir. 2009)). Where a
defendant challenges jurisdiction in a motion to dismiss
pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2), as Dr. Bonilla does here, and
submits evidence in support of his position, “the
burden traditionally shifts back to the plaintiff to produce
evidence supporting jurisdiction.” Meier ex rel.
Meier v. Sun Int'l Hotels, Ltd., 288 F.3d 1264, 1269
(11th Cir. 2002). When a defendant satisfies its burden, the
plaintiff, in order to justify the exercise of jurisdiction,
must “substantiate the jurisdictional allegations in
the complaint by affidavits or other competent proof, and not
merely reiterate the factual allegations in the
complaint.” Polskie Linie Oceaniczne v. Seasafe
Transport A/S, 795 F.2d 968, 972 (11th Cir. 1986).
federal court sitting in diversity undertakes a two-step
inquiry in determining whether personal jurisdiction over a
nonresident defendant exists. First, the court must determine
whether the exercise of jurisdiction is appropriate under
Florida's long-arm statute. Mutual Serv. Ins. Co. v.
Frit Indus., Inc., 358 F.3d 1312, 1319 (11th Cir. 2004).
Second, the court must determine whether personal