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Gibbons v. Brown

    Brief Fact Summary. Defendant Mrs. Brown was injured in an auto accident in a car driven by her husband, due to faulty directions given by the other passenger, Plaintiff Gibbons. Following Plaintiff’s Florida lawsuit against Mr. Brown, Defendant filed suit in Florida against Plaintiff to recover for her own injuries.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. Merely bringing a suit in a particular jurisdiction does not act indefinitely to expose that party to defending a future suit in the same jurisdiction.

    Facts. Plaintiff was driving with Defendant and Mr. Brown, in Montreal, Canada in 1994. Plaintiff allegedly gave faulty directions to Mr. Brown, who was driving, resulting in him driving down a one-way street into a head-on collision that injured both passengers. In 1995, Plaintiff, a Texas resident, sued Mr. Brown in Florida. Two years later, Defendant brought this Florida action against Plaintiff to recover for her injuries. In her complaint, Defendant alleged that she is a resident of Florida and that Plaintiff subjected herself to personal jurisdiction of the Florida court by virtue of having brought the prior lawsuit. Plaintiff filed a motion to dismiss, claiming that the provisions of Mrs. Brown’s complaint were inadequate to satisfy the Florida long-arm statute.

    Issue. Whether by previously availing oneself of a jurisdiction as a Plaintiff automatically renders one subject to defending later suits in the same jurisdiction.

    Held. No. The trial court was directed to dismiss Defendant’s complaint. The fact that a current Defendant previously brought a suit in the forum state does not constitute sufficient activities, without more, to subject the current defendant to personal jurisdiction in the state.

    Discussion. The parties agreed that as a general rule in Florida, a Plaintiff, by bringing an action, subjects herself to the jurisdiction of the court and to subsequent lawful orders entered regarding the same subject matter of that action. However, the Court refused to hold that by filing a lawsuit in 1995, Plaintiff should have to automatically consent to Florida jurisdiction when she was named as a defendant in a related lawsuit two full years later.


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