Vernon Litigation Group Obtains Significant Victory
Sara F. Hall and Jeffrey S. Haut of Vernon Litigation Group obtained a significant appeals court victory for a nationally-recognized leader in the worldwide food service equipment industry this month.
Vernon Litigation Group stepped into the lawsuit last year to take over for the plaintiff’s previous attorney after the defendants in the suit filed an appeal on the issue of jurisdiction pursuant to a choice-of-venue provision in the contractual agreement.
The defendants — an individual and a company incorporated in Nassau, The Bahamas — argued that the choice-of-venue clause was not a valid basis for personal jurisdiction over the defendants, and therefore, the lawsuit could not be brought in a Florida court. The defendants also sought attorneys’ fees in their motion to dismiss pursuant to a separate provision of the contractual agreement.
The lawyers at Vernon Litigation Group recognized and asserted that the defendants had waived their right to contest jurisdiction by seeking relief inconsistent with their motion to dismiss — requesting attorneys’ fees in their motion to dismiss on the basis of one provision of the contractual agreement, while simultaneously arguing that a different provision of the same contractual agreement was not a proper basis for jurisdiction.
A unanimous panel of Florida’s Third District Court of Appeals agreed. Clarifying an issue rarely addressed by Florida courts, the Court agreed with Vernon Litigation Group; that the defendants had waived their jurisdictional defense and the plaintiff’s case was allowed to proceed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court in Miami, Florida.
The Third District Court of Appeal’s ruling in this case makes it more difficult for non-Florida defendants to avoid the jurisdiction of Florida courts. Ms. Hall and Mr. Haut’s winning argument presented in the appeal will help future Plaintiff’s overcome technical jurisdictional arguments by defendants attempting to avoid justice in the Sunshine State. The influential setting ruling may also catch the attention of all Florida litigators who include boilerplate requests for attorneys’ fees in motions to dismiss.
Vernon Litigation Group is a Naples, Florida-based law firm representing clients in courtroom litigation, mediations, and arbitrations throughout Florida and the United States. Vernon Litigation Group is AV-rated and has been recognized for the last eight consecutive years by U.S. News & World Report in The Best Law Firms in America list.