PLAINTIFF’S MEMORANDUM IN OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT’S
MOTION TO DISMISS FOR LACK OF PERSONAL
JURISDICTION AND SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION Plaintiff, NCA SYSTEMS, INC. OF ILLINOIS (“Plaintiff”) now files this Memorandum in Opposition to Defendant OMAR MARK ZAMORA’S (“Defendant”) Motion to Dismiss for lack of Personal Jurisdiction and Subject Matter Jurisdiction in the above-captioned case. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff submits that Defendant’s dismissal motion should be summarily overruled.
LAW AND ARGUMENT
Defendant first asserts that the Court lacks personal jurisdiction over Defendant,
a nonresident attorney practicing in Georgia.
a. burden-shifting analysis
A motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction is a challenge to the legal sufficiency of the pleadings. Acquardo v. Bergeron, 851 So.2d 665, 672 (Fla. 2003). As such, “[i]n order to prevail on a motion to dismiss, a defendant must file an affidavit containing allegations, which if taken as true, show that the defendant’s conduct does not make him or her amenable to service.” Id. Upon defendant’s filing of a sufficient affidavit, “[t]he burden then shifts to the plaintiff, who must prove by affidavit the basis upon which jurisdiction may be obtained.” Emerson v. Cole, 847 So.2d 606, 609 (Fla. App. 2d DCA 2003). “But the burden never shifts to the plaintiff when the nonresident defendant’s affidavit does not sufficiently refute the jurisdictional allegations.” Id.
b. jurisdictional allegations
A review of the Complaint and attached affidavit of George J. Rosen, President of Plaintiff NCA Systems, Inc., of Illinois (“Rosen”), sets forth the following jurisdictional allegations:
assignment agreement between Plaintiff and Law Group of Georgia by Stadler, LLC (“Stadler Law Group”), a Georgia law firm controlled by Defendant, Defendant’s employee (Christine Stadler), acting within the course and scope of her employment, made actionable false representations by telephone and written correspondence knowingly directed to Plaintiff/Rosen in Florida. See Complaint, at Para. 9-12; 24-30; Affidavit of George Rosen (“Rosen Affidavit”), at Para. 4-5.Plaintiff reasonably relied upon said misrepresentations by completing the assignment agreement to Plaintiff’s financial detriment. See Complaint, at Para. 11; 27.
Count II: Count II alleges that Defendant himself committed actionable
fraudulent nondisclosures in a 01/14/04 written correspondence knowingly directed to Plaintiff/Rosen in Florida regarding the extent of Defendant’s operational control of the Stadler Law Group. See Complaint, at Para. 18-19; 31-36; Rosen Affidavit, at Para. 8-10. Plaintiff reasonably relied upon said nondisclosures by delaying its collection efforts of monies owed to Plaintiff by Stadler Law Group. See Complaint, at Para. 35.
Plaintiff’s allegations in Counts I & II establish personal jurisdiction under Florida’s long-arm statute as “tortious act[s]” arising from a nonresident defendant’s telephonic, electronic, or written communication into Florida, Fla. Stat. Section, 48.193(1)(b); Wendt v. Horowitz, 822 So.2d 1252, 1260 (Fla. 2002). In addition, Plaintiff’s allegations regarding Defendant’s misrepresentations establish sufficient minimum contacts as “intentional and tortious acts expressly aimed at the forum state with knowledge that said misrepresentations would have a devastating impact upon the forum state and that the brunt of the acts would be felt in that state”. Koch v. Kimball, 710 So.2d 5, 7 (Fla. App. 2d DCA 1998)(citing Calder v. Jones, 465 U.S. 783, 789-790 (1984). See also Fletcher Jones West Shara, Ltd., LLC v. Rotta, 919 So.2d 685, 686 (Fla. App. 3rd DCA 2006)(minimum contacts established based upon eBay transaction in which nonresident defendant made fraudulent misrepresentations directed to plaintiff in Florida regarding mechanical condition of sale vehicle); Carida v. Holy Cross Hosp., 424 So.2d 849, 852 (Fla. App. 4th DCA 1982)(minimum contacts established where nonresident defendant made telephonic defamatory statements directed to third parties in Florida regarding Plaintiff).
Count III: Count III alleges that Defendant breached an agreement with
Plaintiff by failing to collect/forward agreed-upon payments to Plaintiff, a foreign corporation licensed to do business in Florida with its principal place of business in Coral Springs, Florida. Complaint, at Para. 2; 14-17; 37-39; Rosen Affidavit, at Para. 2.
Plaintiff’s allegations in Counts III establish personal jurisdiction under
required by the contract to be performed in this state”, Fla. Stat. Section, 48.193(1)(g);
Cf. deMco Techno. v. C.C. Engineered Castings, 769 So.2d 1128, 1130 (Fla. App. 3rd DCA 2000)(“appellants concede that their alleged failure to make payments on the promissory note in Florida is sufficient to subject them to the jurisdiction of the court pursuant to section 48.193(1)(g) of Florida’s long-arm statute”). In addition, Defendant’s 01/14/04 correspondence directed to Plaintiff in Florida which (i) memorialized the subject agreement, and (ii) contained material fraudulent nondisclosures related to the subject agreement, establish sufficient minimum contacts as “some other related substantial act in Florida that is purposefully directed toward the state or its residents.” deMco Techno. v. C.C. Engineered Castings, supra, 769 So.2d at 1130 (“Florida courts recognize that when the failure to pay a debt owed in this state, whether as primary obligor or guarantor, is accompanied by some other related substantial act in Florida that is purposefully directed toward the state or its residents, the exercise of personal jurisdiction over such nonresident defendant is proper”).
c. defendant’s affidavit evidence
Attached to Defendant’s dismissal motion is Defendant’s affidavit, in which Defendant makes multiple averments attesting to his lack of minimum contacts with Florida. Specifically, Defendant avers that (i) he has not rented or owned property in Florida, (ii) he does not hold a Florida driver’s license, and (iii) from 2000 until the present date, he has conducted his business affairs exclusively within the Atlanta metropolitan area and/or within the state of Georgia1.
Unfortunately, Defendant’s affidavit fails to address any the above-mentioned jurisdictional allegations, and thus plainly does not contain “allegations, which if taken as true, show that the defendant’s conduct does not make him or her amenable to service.” Acquadro v. Bergeron, supra, 851 So.2d at 672. In this regard, Defendant’s affidavit does not deny (or even address) (i) whether any of the above-mentioned telephonic/ written communications between the parties even took place, (ii) whether Christine Stadler was acting as Defendant’s agent when she made telephonic/written misrepresentations to Rosen in July 2003, or (iii) the extent of Defendant’s operational control over Stadler Law Group.
By failing to deny/address Plaintiff’s jurisdictional allegations, Plaintiff submits that Defendant has not met his threshold evidentiary burden to “refute [Plaintiff’s] jurisdictional allegations”, Emerson v. Cole, supra, 847 So.2d at 609, and thus the Court should summarily deny Defendant’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. Cf. OSI Industries , Inc. v. Carter, 834 So.2d 362, 367 (Fla. App. 5th DCA 2003)(trial court properly harmonized parties’ affidavits and denied defendant’s motion to dismiss without evidentiary hearing where defendant’s affidavit failed to deny that tortious phone conversation took place, and instead only averred that Defendant did not recall any such conversation); Acquardo v. Bergerson, 778 So.2d 1034, 1035 (Fla. App. 4th DCA 2001), affd, 851 So.2d 665 (Fla. 2003)(“[b]ecause the defendants’ affidavits did not deny that the [tortious] telephone communication, which was the basis of personal jurisdiction, had occurred, the trial court correctly denied the motion to dismiss”);
II. Subject Matter Jurisdiction
Defendant also asserts that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to
adjudicate this lawsuit because Defendant has already initiated a declaratory judgment action against Plaintiff in Dekalb County (GA) Superior State Court.
Assuming arguendo that Defendant’s declaratory judgment action raises the same issues as presented in this lawsuit2, Defendant’s subject matter jurisdiction argument would prevail only if Defendant had previously initiated his declaratory judgment action in another Florida circuit court. See Mabie v. Garden State Mgmnt. Corp., 397 So.2d 920, 921 (Fla. 1981)(when two actions involving same subject matter/parties are pending in different circuit courts, jurisdiction lies in the circuit where service of process is first perfected); Kranis v. Tsiogas, 884 So.2d 162, 163 (Fla. App. 2d DCA 2004) (“when a single set of facts is in controversy and suits are pending between parties in two different judicial circuits, jurisdiction lies in the circuit where service is first perfected”); Bedingfield v. Bedingfield, 417 So.2d 1047, 1050 (Fla. App. 4th DCA 1982)(“[i]n general, where courts within one sovereignty have concurrent jurisdiction, the court which first exercises its jurisdiction acquires exclusive jurisdiction to proceed with the case. This is called the ‘principle of priority’”).
Conversely, where actions involving the same subject matter and parties are pending concurrently in two different states, one court may exercise its discretion to stay its proceedings not because it lacks subject matter jurisdiction, but as a matter of comity between sovereign jurisdictions. See Siegel v. Siegel, 575 So.2d 1267, 1272-1273 (Fla. 1991)(“[t]his does not mean that a trial court must always stay proceedings when prior
proceedings involving the same issues and parties are pending before a court in another state, but only that ordinarily this should be the result”); Bedingfield v. Bedingfield, supra, 417 So.2d at 1050(“principle of priority” is not applicable between sovereign
jurisdictions “as a matter of duty”, but instead as a matter of comity).
Because Defendant’s DeKalb County (GA) lawsuit does not deprive this Court of subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s lawsuit sub judice, Plaintiff contends that Defendant’s subject matter jurisdiction argument should be summarily overruled.
For the above-mentioned reasons, Plaintiff asserts that Defendant’s motion to dismiss should be summarily overruled in its entirety.
John Doe, Esq.
Attorney for Plaintiff
0000 Mohawk Ave. Suite 000
St. Petersburg, FL. 00000
(000) 000-0000; (000) 000-0000 (facsimile)
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
This is to certify that the foregoing was served by ordinary mail this ____ day of _____________, 20___, upon Richard J. Jones, Attorney for Defendant, 000 West Bay Street, Suite 000, Boca Raton, FL, 00000.
John Doe, Esq.
Attorney for Plaintiff
1Defendant’s brief also contains several nonjurisdictional factual averments regarding Defendant’s nonreceipt of monies from Plaintiff. See Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss, at P. 2; 3. Plaintiff would simply note that a motion to dismiss tests the legal sufficiency of a complaint, and is not intended to resolve issues of ultimate fact. See Holland v. Anheuser Busch, Inc., 643 So.2d 621, 623 (Fla. App. 2d DCA 1994).
2In this regard, Defendant has proffered no record evidence to establish that Defendant’s DeKalb County lawsuit involves the same issues as Plaintiff’s lawsuit sub judice.