Armet S.N.C. di Ferronato Giovanni & Company v. Hornsby

744 So. 2d 1119 (1999)

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Armet S.N.C. di Ferronato Giovanni & Company v. Hornsby

Florida District Court of Appeal
744 So. 2d 1119 (1999)

Facts

Craig Hornsby (defendant) filed an action in Florida against Armet S.N.C. di Ferronato Giovanni & Company (Armet) (plaintiff), an Italian manufacturing company. In March 1995, pursuant to the service-of-process terms of the Hague Convention, Hornsby served Armet in Venice, Italy. It was undisputed that the service-of-process was valid and gave Armet notice of Hornsby’s action. However, Hornsby failed to file an affidavit-of-service, also called a return-of-service, with the Florida court. Armet did not respond to Hornsby’s complaint. The trial court entered a final default-judgment against Armet in April 1997. In August 1998, Armet filed a motion-to-vacate the default-judgment, arguing that the Florida court did not have jurisdiction to enter a default-judgment against Armet because Hornsby had not filed an affidavit-of-service. Specifically, Armet raised two alternative arguments under the Hague Convention: (1) that the default-judgment was void because the Florida court could not assert jurisdiction over Armet, a foreign defendant who had not appeared in the Florida action, absent proof of valid service; or, alternatively (2) that the affidavit-of-service was defective under the Hague Convention, and the Florida court therefore did not have jurisdiction to enter a default-judgment against Armet until a proper affidavit-of-service was filed. In response, Hornsby finally filed the affidavit-of-service for the March 1995 service-of-process on Armet in Venice. Applying Florida law, and pointing to Armet’s lengthy, unexplained delay in objecting to the affidavit-of-service, the trial court denied Armet’s motion-to-vacate. Armet appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Ervin, J.)

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