final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
of a non-final order from the Circuit Court for the
Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, Broward County; Martin J.
Bidwill, Judge; L.T. Case No. 17-018220CA27.
G. Latimer, Bruno Renda and Noor Fawzy of McGivney, Kluger
& Cook, P.C., Fort Lauderdale, for appellant.
Rebecca S. Vinocur of Rebecca S. Vinocur, P.A., Coral Gables,
for appellees Steven Bolin and Deborah Bolin.
Wall Products appeals the trial court's order denying its
motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction in this
products liability action. Because the record shows the lack
of minimum contacts to support specific personal
jurisdiction, we reverse.
appellees, Steven and Deborah Bolin, filed a 2017 products
liability lawsuit in Broward Circuit Court against multiple
defendants, including SWP. They alleged in their amended
complaint that Steven Bolin was exposed to
asbestos-containing products over a period of years, between
1969 and 1981, at numerous job sites in Florida. They claimed
that as a result, he contracted mesothelioma.
their complaint, they alleged jurisdiction against all
defendants based on numerous allegations of conducting
business in Florida, including that: 1) the defendants
conducted business or had offices within the state; 2) the
plaintiffs' cause of action arose out of the
defendants' business ventures within the state; 3) the
defendants' asbestos-containing materials were sold in
Florida and Steven Bolin used them in Florida; 4) the
defendants engaged in nationwide marketing and specifically
targeted Florida for their asbestos-containing products; 5)
the defendants conducted substantial and not isolated
activities within the state; and 6) the defendants maintained
agents for service of process within the state. The
plaintiffs also alleged that the defendants received
substantial revenues from the sale of products in Florida at
all times material to the cause of action.
to SWP, the complaint stated that Steven Bolin was exposed to
a joint compound in Florida from SWP in 1975-1977 while
working as a laborer or construction worker for a company in
moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. It
attached an affidavit of its bookkeeper, averring that SWP, a
corporation with its principal place of business in Tucker,
Georgia, had never maintained any office or physical presence
in Florida, and that neither did its predecessor, Ruco of
Atlanta, Inc., also a Georgia corporation. During the 1970s,
Ruco's sales were centralized in Georgia, and neither SWP
nor Ruco marketed or sold any product in Florida.
counter the motion to dismiss, the Bolins filed a response,
quoting from Steven Bolin's deposition that he had used
an asbestos-containing joint compound in 1977 while working
as a laborer and that one of them was named Ruco. The
response also quoted from a deposition of Richard Whitcomb
for SWP, who said SWP was currently distributing its product
in Florida at the time of his deposition, which was in 2017.
Approximately twenty percent of SWP's sales are made in
Florida. The Bolins argued that SWP had continuous contacts
and sales in Florida of asbestos-containing products and that
SWP is subject to specific personal jurisdiction pursuant to
section 48.193, Florida Statutes (2014).
trial court held a non-evidentiary hearing on the motion to
dismiss. Counsel for the Bolins declared that they were
alleging specific personal jurisdiction against SWP, not
general jurisdiction. The court questioned whether the fact
that SWP was doing business in Florida at the time of the
hearing, decades after the exposure, would support finding
personal jurisdiction over SWP now. SWP objected, arguing
that at the time of the alleged Florida exposure, SWP did not
do business in Florida. The trial court entered an order
denying the motion to dismiss, prompting this appeal.
Florida court to have jurisdiction over a defendant under the
long-arm statute, courts must apply a two-prong analysis.
Venetian Salami Co. v. Parthenais, 554 So.2d 499,
502 (Fla. 1989). The court first determines whether the facts
as pleaded were sufficient to support personal jurisdiction
under the long-arm statute, section 48.193, Florida Statutes.
Id. Secondly, if the first requirement is met, it
determines "whether the federal constitutional due
process requirements of minimum contacts have been met."
Am. Fin. Trading Corp. v. Bauer, 828 So.2d 1071,
1074 (Fla. 4th DCA 2002); Woods v. Nova Co. Belize
Ltd., 739 So.2d 617, 619-20 (Fla. 4th DCA 1999).
plaintiff has sufficiently alleged a basis for long-arm
jurisdiction, then the burden shifts to the defendant to
contest those allegations, by affidavit or other proof, or to
claim that the federal minimum contacts requirement is not
met, by affidavit or other verified evidence. See
Venetian Salami, 554 So.2d at 502. If adequately
contested, then the burden shifts back to ...