Waiving the Defense of Lack of Personal Jurisdiction

In general, every personal injury case has to address jurisdiction issues. Jurisdiction is defined as the court’s power to hear certain cases. There are two types of jurisdiction which must be established for a lawsuit to be considered valid: personal jurisdiction and subject matter jurisdiction.

Personal jurisdiction is governed by statutory and case law authority which establish the rules to determine whether a court has power over a particular defendant. If the statutory and or case law elements are met, a defendant is then subject to the jurisdiction of the court and has an affirmative duty to respond to the personal injury lawsuit. In some instances personal jurisdiction is challenged by the defendant on a motion to dismiss.

In a recent opinion by Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal the issue of whether a defendant waived the right to claim lack of jurisdiction over the defendant’s person was brought before the court. See DiGiovanni v. BAC Home Loans Servicing, L.P. So.3d, 37 FLW D624 (Fla. 2nd DCA 3-14-2012). In the DiGiovanni case, the issue arose as a result of the defendant filing a notice of appearance and a motion for extension of time to file an answer to the plaintiff’s compliant. The sole issue was whether the request for an extension of time in of itself constituted a waiver of the right to claim lack of personal jurisdiction.

The Second District Court of Appeals ruled that a motion for an extension of time does not constitute a general appearance and therefore a the defendant had not submitted himself to the jurisdiction of the court on the sole basis of requesting additional time to respond to the Plaintiff’s complaint. The court went on to hold that in order for a filing to constitute a general appearance before the court, it must seek some sort of affirmative relief on the merits of the case.

Often times in a personal injury case both parties will challenge each respective case through the rules of procedure which can lead to a case being dismissed. Therefore it is crucial to address not only the factual but procedural issues when dealing with a personal injury case.