Cole Barnett, Is Injury a Tortious Act?: Interpreting Florida’s Long-Arm Statute

66 Fla. L. Rev. 2301 (2014) |

Florida Statute § 48.193 enumerates several acts that grant Florida courts personal jurisdiction over nonresident defendants. Under Florida Statute § 48.193(1)(a)(2), nonresident defendants may become subject to personal jurisdiction in Florida by “committing a tortious act within this state.” The Florida district courts of appeal are split over the correct interpretation of this phrase. Along with the federal courts that sit in Florida, the state’s First and Third District Courts of Appeal broadly interpret the phrase to reach nonresident defendants whose out-of-state acts cause injury in Florida. In contrast, the state’s Second, Fourth, and Fifth District Courts of Appeal narrowly interpret the same language to exclude personal jurisdiction over nonresident defendants who cause injury in Florida by acting outside of the state. The Florida Supreme Court and the Florida Legislature have declined to resolve this split, providing the opportunity for forum shopping when it is advantageous for plaintiffs to avoid the narrow interpretation by filing in federal court. This Note argues that the broad interpretation is preferable based upon canons of statutory interpretation, the policy of providing Florida residents with an appropriate forum to redress their harms, and the expansive reach of Florida’s personal jurisdiction statutory scheme.

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