Labbee v. Harrington

913 So. 2d 679 (2005)

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Labbee v. Harrington

Florida District Court of Appeal
913 So. 2d 679 (2005)

Facts

James Harrington (defendant), a resident of Puerto Rico, owned a rental property in Miami, Florida, for approximately 20 years. Harrington then sold the property to Beatriz Labbee (plaintiff). Prior to the sale, Harrington represented that the property’s roof was new and that there had been no roof leaks during his 20-year ownership. Labbee purchased the property in reliance on Harrington’s representation. However, after purchasing the property, Labbee discovered widespread water damage caused by extensive roof leaks. Labbee sued Harrington for fraud and breach-of-contract, seeking monetary damages for the repair costs. Because Labbee’s attempts to personally serve Harrington in Puerto Rico were unsuccessful, Labbee effected service-of-process on Harrington via substituted-service on the Florida Secretary of State, as permitted under Florida’s long-arm statute. Harrington received notice of Labbee’s lawsuit but did not respond. Ultimately, a default judgment was entered against Harrington. Harrington then filed a motion to vacate the default judgment, arguing that Labbee could not validly effect service-of-process on him via substituted-service on Florida’s Secretary of State simply by alleging that Harrington was a nonresident defendant who engaged in real-estate-related business activities in Florida. The trial court agreed and vacated the default judgment, holding that Labbee failed to allege sufficient jurisdictional bases or facts to support the use of substituted-service. Labbee appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Cortiñas, J.)

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