final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
of non-final order from the Circuit Court for the Fifteenth
Judicial Circuit, Palm Beach County; Martin H. Colin, Judge;
L.T. Case No. 2012CA004772 AJ.
L. Mendlestein of Falk, Waas, Hernandez, Cortina, Solomon
& Bonner, P.A., Coral Gables, for appellant.
J. Edwards, of Scott J. Edwards, P.A., Boca Raton, for
County of Cumberland, New Jersey, appeals the circuit
court's order denying its motion to dismiss for lack of
personal jurisdiction. The court determined that the
allegations in plaintiff Andrew W. Kwap's complaint were
sufficient to satisfy due process and justify the exercise of
personal jurisdiction over the County. We reverse because the
court failed to account for the County's affidavit
rebutting the allegations in the complaint.
County hired PTS America, LLC, an international prisoner
extradition company, to transport Kwap from Palm Beach County
to New Jersey. During the transport, Kwap was injured in an
accident while in a van owned and operated by PTS.
the accident, Kwap sued PTS and the County. In his first
amended complaint, he alleged that PTS negligently
transported him without safety restraints and that the County
was vicariously liable for the negligence of its agent, PTS.
County filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal
jurisdiction. Specifically, the County argued that the court
did not have personal jurisdiction under section
48.193(1)(b), Florida Statutes, because it did not commit a
tort in Florida, and because the alleged tortfeasor, PTS, was
an independent contractor, not its agent.
County attached an affidavit to its motion from the Sheriff
of Cumberland County. The affidavit stated that PTS operated
as an independent contractor because PTS used its own
equipment and hired its own personnel; and because the County
did not dictate or control any aspect of the transport, such
as the route, timing, use of particular equipment, or the
personnel employed by PTS.
allowing limited jurisdictional discovery, the court held a
hearing on the County's motion to dismiss. At the
hearing, the court heard argument from counsel, which
included discussions regarding deposition testimony of a PTS
employee. At the conclusion of the hearing, the court
reserved ruling and later entered a written order denying the
motion. In its order, the court stated that the first amended
complaint contained sufficient allegations to exercise
personal jurisdiction over the County.
a Florida court has personal jurisdiction over a non-resident
defendant involves a two-step inquiry. Venetian Salami
Co. v. Parthenais, 554 So.2d 499, 502 (Fla. 1989).
First, the court must determine whether the complaint alleges
sufficient jurisdictional facts to bring the action within
Florida's long-arm statute, section 48.193, Florida
Statutes (2016). Id. at 502. Second, the court must
determine whether sufficient ...