Businesses that conduct online commerce with Florida residents should be prepared to litigate disputes arising out of their transactions in Florida. The Fourth District Court of Appeal has described the interplay of the internet and assessments of specific and general jurisdiction as “a confusing area of the law that is mainly scattered across the federal courts…” Caiazzo v. Am. Royal Arts Corp., 73 So. 3d 245, 248 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011). As several transactions are done online, many defendants may be unsure if they can be haled into the Florida courts if they live in another state. There is a two-step process for determining if an out of state defendant can be forced to litigate in Florida. Florida’s Long Arm Statute, § 48.193, Fla. Stat., gives clear guidelines as to how jurisdiction can be acquired.
There are two types of jurisdiction that Florida has over out of state defendants: specific or general. “As the first step in a two-step process, it must initially be determined if sufficient facts exist to confer either specific jurisdiction or general jurisdiction pursuant to Florida’s long-arm statute.” Caiazzo 73 So. 3d at 250. A showing of either type of jurisdiction will establish the minimum contacts needed for the out of state defendant to be haled into a Florida court. After an assessment of minimum contacts, the court then does an assessment of due process. See Int’l Shoe Co. v. State of Wash., Office of Unemployment Comp. & Placement, 326 U.S. 310 (1945).
Fla. Stat. 48.193(1) provides specific jurisdiction over defendants where the cause of action arises out of their isolated conduct within Florida. 48.193(1) Fla. Stat. provides a non-exhaustive list of activities that can subject a defendant to specific jurisdiction, some activities that are pertinent to business defendants include, but are not limited to: