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Florida Third DCA rules that medical negligence plaintiff could not assert Florida long arm personal jurisdiction over Delaware corporation with subsidiaries operating in Florida

On September 8, 2021, in The Schumacher Group of Delaware, Inc. v. Dictan, etc., et al., No. 3D20-1571, the Florida Third DCA reversed a trial court order in a medical negligence case and remanded with instructions to dismiss a Delaware corporation (“TSG Delaware”) from the case for lack of personal jurisdiction. The Delaware corporation was alleged in the complaint to have its principal place of business in Louisiana. The complaint made no reference to any provision of Florida’s long-arm statute in the complaint, and it did not specifically assert general or specific personal jurisdiction. However, the complaint included a lengthy list of TSG Delaware’s alleged “numerous and extensive contacts” with Florida and alleged that the corporation and its Florida subsidiaries were doing business and operating under two trade names in Florida: “Schumacher Group” and “Schumacher Clinical Partners.” The Complaint further alleged that a physician defendant, Dr. Larkin, was an agent of TSG Delaware. The Third DCA found that the fact that TSG Delaware’s professional liability insurance policy covered TSG Delaware’s Florida affiliates and provided insurance coverage against Florida risk was insufficient to invoke subsection 4 of Florida’s long-arm statute. See § 48.193(1)(a)(4), Fla. Stat. (2020) (subjecting a nonresident to jurisdiction for a cause of action arising from “contracting to insure a person, property, or risk located within this state at the time of contracting”). The Third DCA also concluded that TSG Delaware’s use of two trademarks, “Schumacher Group” and “Schumacher Clinical Partners,” did not trigger § 48.193(1)(a)(4) long arm jurisdiction for any cause of action arising from “operating, conducting, engaging in, or carrying on a business venture in this state or having an officer or agency in this state.” Finally, the Third DCA concluded that jurisdiction under § 48.193(1)(a)(2) for any cause of action arising from “[c]ommitting a tortious act within this state” was not triggered in this case by the actions of Dr. Larkin because he was operating under an independent contractor agreement with a subsidiary of a subsidiary of TSG Delaware rather than with TSG Delaware directly.

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