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When I file a lawsuit, which jurisdiction must I use in Florida?

On Behalf of | May 30, 2024 | Business Lawsuits & Disputes |

Lawsuits filed in separate jurisdictions can become very complex, and this has been exemplified by a case involving the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and Florida State University’s (FSU) college football team. The ACC has filed a lawsuit against FSU in North Carolina, while FSU have filed a suit 400 miles away in Leon County. 

Each case is attempting to address similar legal issues but in completely different jurisdictions. Why are cases like this so complex and how can they be resolved? 

The complexity of suits filed in different jurisdictions 

If two separate but related cases are filed in the same state, then the federal courts often step in and combine the cases to be resolved in one district. For cases filed in separate states, however, matters become much more complex because the law in each state is different. Rob Chapman, an attorney with Brick Business Law, commented on this matter in a recent interview with the Tampa Bay Times, saying  “Different states can apply different laws, right?” There is no way to consolidate cases filed in different states and one judge is not necessarily bound by the other’s ruling. 

Personal jurisdiction and subject matter 

The jurisdiction that you should file in largely depends on the circumstances of your case and where the defendant is based geographically. Some courts have no legal authority to hear certain types of cases (subject matter jurisdiction). For instance, a county court in Florida may not have jurisdiction over a question on federal law.  

Personal jurisdiction refers to whether or not a defendant has sufficient connections to the state where the case has been filed. For example: 

  • Was the defendant sufficiently present in the state? If the defendant has been properly served with a summons in the relevant state, then the court within that state has jurisdiction. 
  • Residency or place of business. If an individual maintains a place of business in a specific state or resides there regularly, a case from the courts within that state can be brought against them. 
  • Express or implied consent. Jurisdiction can also be established via consent. For example, if an individual answers a summons by attending a court hearing, they have given consent and that court has jurisdiction over them. Implied consent could be merely conducting business activities within the relevant state. 

Filing a lawsuit in the correct jurisdiction is one of the most important aspects of any legal case. We can help ensure that you take the appropriate steps. Feel free to contact us for a consultation.