Jurisdiction and venue play role in court’s authority


J. Layne Smith

Judge J. Layne Smith

Q. Judge Smith, what does personal jurisdiction mean? Robert

A. Personal jurisdiction is a court’s authority over you. 

If you reside in Florida, the Sunshine State has personal jurisdiction over you. Indeed, you expect to bring and defend lawsuits in Florida but not in other states. 

Other states’ courts lack personal jurisdiction over you unless you:

1. Own real property there,

2. Commit a crime there,

3. Breach a contract there,

4. Commit a tort there, or

5. Conduct enough business there. 

Be forewarned that if a plaintiff sues you in another state, you must immediately assert the court’s lack of personal jurisdiction over you. Otherwise, you’ll waive the defense. Ignoring a lawsuit or responding to one without the benefit of legal advice will be an expensive mistake. 

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