Gilbert v. Storey

920 So. 2d 1173 (2006)

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Gilbert v. Storey

Florida District Court of Appeal
920 So. 2d 1173 (2006)

Facts

Jacqueline Storey (defendant), in her capacity as the personal-representative for the estate of Elisha Anderson, filed a quiet-title action against Hawanda Gilbert (plaintiff) regarding property located in Miami, Florida. Storey attempted to effect service-of-process on Hawanda via substituted-service on Hawanda’s mother-in-law, Rosa Gilbert, at Rosa’s residence. When the process server attempted to serve Rosa, Rosa refused service, stating that Hawanda did not live with Rosa. After the failed substituted-service, Storey served Hawanda by publication, which was permitted for quiet-title actions in Florida; the published service notice stated that Hawanda was required to file a responsive pleading by October 28, 2004. Storey then made another attempt to serve Hawanda via substituted-service on Rosa; Rosa again refused service, reiterating that Hawanda did not live with Rosa. On October 14, 2004, (1) Storey moved for a default-judgment, arguing that Hawanda had failed to timely respond to Storey’s summons; (2) the trial court entered a default-judgment against Hawanda; and (3) Hawanda served Storey with a motion-to-dismiss, which was then filed with the court on October 15. On October 26, Hawanda filed a motion-to-vacate the October 14 default-judgment, arguing that the court did not have personal jurisdiction over her (1) because Storey’s attempt to serve Hawanda via substituted-service on Rosa was invalid due to the fact that Hawanda did not reside with Rosa; and (2) because the attempted substituted-service was invalid, Hawanda never received service-of-process. At an evidentiary hearing, Rosa submitted unchallenged testimony that Hawanda did not reside with Rosa at the time of either substituted-service attempt. Regardless, the trial court refused to vacate the default-judgment, holding that Hawanda’s motion-to-dismiss was untimely. Hawanda appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Cope, C.J.)

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