Wendt v. Horowitz

822 So. 2d 1252 (2002)

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Wendt v. Horowitz

Florida Supreme Court
822 So. 2d 1252 (2002)

Facts

K.D. Trinh Investments, Inc. (Trinh), a Canadian corporation, sold short-term, high-interest loans to Florida residents through independent agents. Bernard Wendt (plaintiff), a Florida resident, was one of Trinh’s independent agents. Trinh retained Michigan attorney Marvin Horowitz (defendant) to draft loan notes and certificates that complied with Florida law. Horowitz told Trinh that the loan notes were not securities and that, therefore, the independent agents brokering the loans did not need to be licensed as securities brokers in Florida. Approximately one year after commencing loan sales, the Florida Department of Banking and Finance (DBS) commenced an investigation into Trinh’s loan sales due to suspected securities-law violations. Horowitz responded by letter to DBS agents and participated in the investigation on Trinh’s behalf. Subsequently, Florida residents who had purchased Trinh’s loan notes through Wendt brought a class-action lawsuit against Wendt, alleging that the loan notes were worthless and violated Florida securities laws. Wendt then filed a third-party complaint against Horowitz, alleging that Wendt had brokered the loan notes in detrimental reliance on Horowitz’s legal advice. Wendt claimed personal jurisdiction over Horowitz, a Michigan resident, under Florida’s long-arm statute, alleging that Horowitz had committed tortious acts in Florida by (1) negligently responding in writing to the DBS investigation; and (2) negligently drafting Florida loan documents that violated Florida securities laws. Horowitz moved to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, arguing that he did not commit a tortious act in Florida because he was never physically present in Florida. The trial court held that the long-arm statute afforded Florida personal jurisdiction over Horowitz and denied Horowitz’s motion. Horowitz appealed. The appellate court reversed the denial, holding that Florida’s long-arm statute did not apply because Horowitz’s tortious acts were committed in Michigan, not in Florida. Wendt appealed to the Florida Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Pariente, J.)

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