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Wills v. Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd.

United States District Court, S.D. Florida

March 21, 2018

VICTORIA WILLS, Plaintiff,
v.
ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISES LTD. and ALDIN UKOSATA, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS WITHOUT PREJUDICE

          JAMES LAWRENCE KING UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court upon Defendant Aldin Ukosata's Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction ("Motion") (D.E. 22), filed on December 7, 2017. Plaintiff filed her Response in Opposition (D.E. 25) on January 11, 2018, and Defendant filed his Reply (D.E. 29) on January 28, 2018.

         In his Motion, Defendant asserts, inter alia, that he is a resident of New York, has not engaged in any business activities in Florida, and does not have any real estate or other interest in property in Florida. Accordingly, Defendant argues that there is no specific or general jurisdiction pursuant to Florida's long-arm statute.

         In her Response, Plaintiff argues that Defendant subjected himself to the jurisdiction of this Court through the forum selection clause in his passenger Ticket Contract. Plaintiff also argues that pursuant to section 48.l93(1)(a)(2), Florida Statutes, the Court has specific personal jurisdiction over Defendant because the subject cruise began and ended in Florida.

         I. Standard of Review

         In deciding a motion to dismiss, a court must accept the allegations in a complaint's as true and construe them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See M. T. V. v. Dekalb County Sch. Dist., 446 F.3d 1153, 1156 (11th Cir. 2006). "In analyzing the sufficiency of the complaint, [the court] limit[s] [its] consideration to the well-pleaded factual allegations, documents central to or referenced in the complaint, and matters judicially noticed." La Grasta v. First Union Sec, Inc., 358 F.3d 840, 845 (11th Cir. 2004).

         II. Discussion

         The Plaintiff has the burden of establishing a prima facie case of personal jurisdiction. Stubbs v. Wyndham Nassau Resort and Crystal Palace Casino, 447 F.3d 1357, 1360 (11th Cir. 2006). To determine whether a court has personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant, federal courts must engage in a two-part analysis. Sculptchair v. Century Arts, Ltd., 94 F.3d 623, 626 (11th Cir. 1996); Pesaplastic, C.A. v. Cincinnati Milacron Co., 750 F.2d 1516, 1522 (11th Cir. 1985). Courts first analyze the jurisdictional problem by looking at the applicable long-arm statute. Sculptchair, 94 F.3d at 626. If this inquiry is satisfactorily answered, the court considers whether asserting jurisdiction offends the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Id.

         a. Forum Selection Clause

         As a preliminary matter, Plaintiff failed to attach a copy of any ticket contract to the Amended Complaint. Notwithstanding, Plaintiffs Amended Complaint states that Defendant "is a party to a passenger ticket contract for the subject cruise aboard the vessel, Allure of the Seas, and pursuant to the terms and conditions of the ticket contract, has subjected himself to the jurisdiction of this Court." Am. Complaint (D.E. 15, ¶ 6). Plaintiff, in her Response, not Amended Complaint, states that Defendant agreed to the jurisdiction of the Court through the forum selection clause in the Ticket Contract. Resp. in Opposition (D.E. 25, p.3).

         The forum selection clause of the Ticket Contract, attached as an exhibit to the Response, provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

EXCEPT AS PROVIDED IN SECTION 10(b) WITH REGARD TO CLAIMS OTHER THAN FOR PERSONAL INJURY, ILLNESS OR DEATH OF A PASSENGER, IT IS AGREED BY AND BETWEEN PASSENGER AND CARRIER THAT ALL DISPUTES AND MATTERS WHATSOEVER ARISING UNDER, IN CONNECTION WITH OR INCIDENT TO THIS AGREEMENT, PASSENGER'S CRUISE, CRUISETOUR, LAND TOUR OR TRANSPORT, SHALL BE LITIGATED, IF AT ALL, IN AND BEFORE THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA LOCATED IN MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA, U.S.A., (OR AS TO THOSE LAWSUITS TO WHICH THE FEDERAL COURTS OF THE UNITED STATES LACK SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION, BEFORE A COURT LOCATED IN MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA, U.S.A.) TO THE EXCLUSION OF THE COURTS OF ANY OTHER STATE, TERRITORY OR COUNTRY. PASSENGER HEREBY CONSENTS TO JURISDICTION AND WAIVES ANY VENUE OR OTHER OBJECTION THAT HE MAY HAVE TO ANY SUCH ACTION OR PROCEEDING BEING BROUGHT IN THE APPLICABLE COURT LOCATED IN MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA.

Ticket Contract (D.E. 25-3, p.3).

         Section 2(b) of the Ticket Contract defines "Carrier" to include: (i) the Vessel, or any substituted ship; (ii) the Vessel's Operator; and (iii) with respect to the Land Tour portion of any CruiseTour, the operator of the Land Tour ('LTO') together with the owners, managers, charterers, affiliates, successors and assigns of the entities identified in subsections (i), (ii) and (iii) of this sentence. Carrier also shall include ...


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