Cannella v. Auto-Owners Insurance Co.

801 So. 2d 94 (2001)

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Cannella v. Auto-Owners Insurance Co.

Florida Supreme Court
801 So. 2d 94 (2001)

Facts

Jeffrey and Joanne Cannella (plaintiffs) filed a personal-injury action against Mock Plumbing Contractor, Inc. (MPC), a dissolved-corporation, for injuries incurred prior to MPC’s dissolution. At the relevant time, MPC had a commercial general-liability insurance policy through Auto-Owners Insurance Company (Auto-Owners) (defendant). In June 1992, the Cannellas effected service-of-process on MPC via personal-service on Monica Mock, who was listed in Florida’s corporate records as both MPC’s president and registered-agent. Mock was the only individual ever recorded as having any connection to MPC. The Cannellas’ affidavit-of-service stated that Mock was served in her capacity as MPC’s registered-agent. After trial, judgment was entered in favor of the Cannellas, and MPC assigned its rights under the Auto-Owners policy to the Cannellas. After Auto-Owners refused to pay-out the judgment entered against MPC, the Cannellas sued Auto-Owners for breach-of-contract. In response, Auto-Owners moved to set-aside the judgment entered against MPC, arguing that the judgment was void because (1) service-of-process on MPC, as a dissolved-corporation, could only be effectuated via service-of-process on MPC’s director-as-trustee; and (2) because Mock was not MPC’s director-as-trustee, and instead was served in her capacity as MPC’s registered-agent, personal-service on Mock did not constitute valid service-of-process on MPC. The trial court rejected Auto-Owners’ challenge and awarded damages to the Cannellas. On appeal, the appellate court reversed, holding that the judgment entered against MPC was void because service-of-process on Mock did not constitute valid service-of-process on MPC. The Cannellas appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

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