The Law School Authority

Gibbons v. Brown Case Brief

Summary of Gibbons v. Brown
716 So. 2d 868 [1998]

Relevant Facts: In 1994 Gibbons and Mr. and Mrs. Brown were driving together in Montreal, Canada. Ms. Gibbons gave faulty directions to Mr. Brown who was driving, causing him to turn down the wrong way onto a one-way street, this resulted in a head-on collision that injured both passengers. Gibbons, a Texas resident filed suit against Mr. Brown in Florida; Mrs. Brown was not a party to that suit. 2 yrs later Mrs. Brown filed this suit against Ms Gibbons in Florida to recover for her injuries.

Legal Issue(s): Whether Gibbons’ acts in filing suit against Mr. Brown constitute sufficient jurisdictional requirements under Florida’s long arm statute?

Court’s Holding: NO

Procedure:

Law or Rule(s): The PL must allege sufficient jurisdictional facts to bring the Df w/i the coverage of the long-arm statute.  Then sufficient minimum contacts must be shown to comply w/ the requirements of due process.

Court Rationale: FL statute “A Df who is engaged in substantial and not isolated activity w/i this State, is subject to the jurisdiction of the cts of this State, whether or not the claim arises from that activity.” 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. Even if we assume that bringing an action in a FL ct can constitute a “substantial and not isolated activity,” Mrs. Brown has not shown that Ms. Gibbons “is engaged,” in any activity in this state whatsoever other than defending the present suit.  Given the length of time between the two actions and the fact that the prior suit named as defendant a non party in the instant proceedings, we conclude that Mrs. Brown has not alleged a satisfactory ground for personal jurisdiction pursuant to statute. The filing of the 1995 action in FL would not satisfy by itself any alternative grounds.

Plaintiff’s Argument: Ms. Gibbons subjected herself to FL jurisdiction w/ respect to any “lawful orders,” that were entered subsequently regarding “the subject matter of the action.”

Defendant’s Argument:   The prior suit was brought in 1995, and Mrs. Brown did not file her complaint until 1997, and Mrs. Brown was not a party to the suit in 1995.

Pronounced As: damklz , in classical mythology, courtier at the court of Dionysius I. He so persistently praised the power and happiness of Dionysius that the tyrant, in order to show the precariousness of rank and power, gave a banquet and had a sword suspended above the head of Damocles by a single hair. Hence the expression “the sword of Damocles to mean an ever-present peril.



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