Jarboe Family and Friends Irrevocable Living Trust v. Spielman, — So.3d —-, 2014 WL 185215 (Fla. 2d DCA January 17, 2014)

If you’re a non-Florida trustee, a Florida court’s personal jurisdiction over you is never a given, in any context, and that includes proceedings supplementary under F.S. 56.29.

This case involved a Florida judgment creditor trying to sue a Kentucky trustee/trust in Florida. The Kentucky trustee moved to dismiss on jurisdictional grounds, tracking the procedures for contesting personal jurisdiction laid out by statute in F.S. 48.193 and by our supreme court in Venetian Salami Co. v. Parthenais, 554 So.2d 499, 502 (Fla.1989). Creditor argued this procedure was trumped by F.S. 56.29, which governs “proceedings supplementary” for the collection of unsatisfied judgments. Creditor won the argument at the trial-court level.

Spielman disagreed that Florida’s long-arm statute and Venetian Salami apply in proceedings supplementary. Spielman argued that the only allegations required to meet the jurisdictional pleading requirements were those setting forth a facially sufficient cause of action for proceedings supplementary under section 56.29, Florida Statutes (2011). Spielman asserted that the impleader complaint’s allegations that the Trust and the Trustee transferred property to delay, hinder, or defraud Spielman satisfied this requirement. Spielman alternatively asserted that Jarboe’s deposition refuted the factual allegations in the Trustee’s affidavit.

The trial court agreed with Spielman’s primary argument and entered an order denying the motion to dismiss.

Wrong answer says the 2d DCA. Here’s why:

As has been noted, long-arm jurisdiction is a separate species of jurisdiction from that which is dependent upon pleadings or other procedural happenings. See Judge Scott Stephens, Florida’s Third Species of Jurisdiction, 82 Fla. B.J. 10, 11 (Mar. 2008) (discussing the differences between subject-matter jurisdiction, in personam jurisdiction, and “procedural jurisdiction”). Indeed, at least two Florida courts have addressed the issue of in personam jurisdiction over nonresident third-party impleader defendants by applying Florida’s long-arm statute as set forth in Venetian Salami. See, e.g., Tabet v. Tabet, 644 So.2d 557, 559 (Fla. 3d DCA 1994); Neff v. Adler, 416 So.2d 1240, 1243–44 (Fla. 4th DCA 1982), superseded by statute on other grounds, Standard Prop. Inv. Trust, Inc. v. Luskin, 585 So.2d 1099 (Fla. 4th DCA 1991). Thus, the Trust and the Trustee correctly argue that the issue of in personam jurisdiction in this case must be determined in accordance with the procedures explained in Venetian Salami.

Lesson learned?

If you’re a non-Florida trustee, a Florida court’s personal jurisdiction over you is never a given, in any context, and that includes proceedings supplementary under F.S. 56.29. If you find yourself litigating this issue, you’ll want to make sure you comply with the traditional procedures for contesting long-arm jurisdiction, which I’ve previously written about in the probate context here. You’ll also want to make sure you factor in F.S. 736.0202, Florida’s brand new trust-specific long-arm statute, which was passed in 2013 and previously discussed here.