Section 48.193 Florida Statutes - Interpretation

In Wendt v. Horowitz, 822 So. 2d 1252, 1257 (Fla. 2002), the Supreme Court of Florida considered the meaning of "committing a tortious act within this state" under section 48.193(1)(b). Wendt, 822 So. 2d at 1258. In particular, the question before this Court in Wendt was whether "making telephonic, electronic, or written communications into Florida from outside of the State can constitute 'committing a tortious act' under section 48.193(1)(b)." Id. In that case, Wendt, a Florida resident and resident agent for an out-of-state corporation who solicited investors for the corporation, filed a third-party complaint against a nonresident attorney and law firm, claiming that he had relied to his detriment on the attorney's legal advice. Id. at 1254-55. Wendt asserted that the attorney had committed a tortious act in Florida by negligently responding in writing to an investigation by the Division of Securities relating to the alleged sale of unregistered securities and negligently drafting loan documents that were knowingly intended to be evidence of loans to be made by Florida investors to the corporation. Id. at 1255. The attorney moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, asserting that his contacts with Florida only involved telephonic or mail correspondence and never involved travel to Florida. Id. The trial court denied the motion to dismiss and, on appeal, the Fifth District Court of Appeal held that no tortious act was committed in Florida because the alleged acts were performed in Michigan. Id. at 1256. After reviewing relevant case law, this Court held that a defendant's physical presence is not necessary to commit a tortious act in Florida. Id. at 1260. Rather, "'committing a tortious act' in Florida under section 48.193(1)(b) can occur through the nonresident defendant's telephonic, electronic, or written communications into Florida." Id. "However, the cause of action must arise from the communications"--"this predicate finding is necessary because of the connexity requirement contained in section 48.193(1)." Id.