Due process requires a court to have personal jurisdiction over the defendant. A defendant must have a certain level of contact with the state for that state’s courts to exercise personal jurisdiction. There are two forms of personal jurisdiction—specific jurisdiction and general jurisdiction, both of which are set out in § 48.193, Florida Statutes. A person is subject to the specific jurisdiction of a Florida court if the claim in question arises from the enumerated activities in the statute, including operating a business in Florida, holding a mortgage Florida property, and committing a tort in Florida.
The statute also sets out the requirements for general jurisdiction, which requires the defendant to be “engaged in substantial and not isolated activity" in Florida. Unlike specific jurisdiction, general jurisdiction can apply even when the claim does not arise from activity in Florida. § 48.193, Florida Statutes.
The Third District Court of Appeal recently held that the trial court did not have general jurisdiction over a cruise ship doctor in a negligence case. According to the opinion in Taylor v. Gutierrez, Ms. Gutierrez saw the ship’s doctor for abdominal pain. He diagnosed her with gastritis and treated her accordingly. She later underwent abdominal surgery and alleged she was treated for abdominal sepsis, multiple organ failure, and a cerebral hemorrhage. She filed a negligence lawsuit against both the doctor and the cruise line.