916 F.2d 1510 (11th Cir. 1990), 89-5850, Madara v. Hall

Docket Nº:89-5850.
Citation:916 F.2d 1510
Party Name:John MADARA, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Daryl HALL, Defendant-Appellee.
Case Date:November 07, 1990
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
 
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Page 1510

916 F.2d 1510 (11th Cir. 1990)

John MADARA, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

Daryl HALL, Defendant-Appellee.

No. 89-5850.

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

November 7, 1990

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Steven M. Kramer, Steven M. Kramer & Associates, New York City, Mark S. Guralnick, Garber & Guralnick, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for plaintiff-appellant.

Brian D. Caplan, Steven M. Hayes, Parcher & Hayes, New York City, Thomas W. McAiley, James S. Robertson, Beckham, McAiley & Schulz, Miami, Fla., for defendant-appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Before KRAVITCH and COX, Circuit Judges, and DYER, Senior Circuit Judge.

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COX, Circuit Judge:

John Madara, the plaintiff, appeals the district court's dismissal of his libel suit against defendant Daryl Hall. We affirm.

I. FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS BELOW

The genesis of this libel suit against entertainer Daryl Hall is an interview Hall gave by telephone from New York to a reporter for Music Connection magazine in California. The interview appeared in the November 24-December 14, 1986 issue of the magazine. The alleged libel is contained in a paragraph that quoted Hall as follows:

I had my first mini-disillusionment with the music business early on. I was working with this guy John Madiera [sic] in Philadelphia; he wrote "At the Hop" and a whole bunch of things, and he had his day in the sun, but he was pretty much a small-time kind of a guy. I was doin' sessions with him, gettin' paid by him--bein' screwed by him, basically.

Appellant's Record Excerpts and Appendix, A39, A41. (Copy of Music Connection interview) (emphasis in text of article). In December 1987, Madara sued Hall for libel in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. That court dismissed the action as time-barred under New York's one-year statute of limitations. In May 1988, Madara filed this libel action in the Southern District of Florida. Subject matter jurisdiction was based on diversity of citizenship. Madara sought to obtain the benefit of Florida's two-year statute of limitations for such actions.

Hall filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. He asserted that the complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted because, applying Florida's borrowing statute, California's one-year statute of limitations applied and the action was therefore time-barred. Hall also sought dismissal under Rule 12(b)(2) on the ground that the court lacked personal jurisdiction over him.

The district court granted Hall's motion to dismiss. Madera [sic] v. Hall, 717 F.Supp. 812 (S.D.Fla.1989). Addressing the grounds for the motion in the same order as presented by Hall, the court held first that for the purposes of the borrowing statute, Florida courts apply the "significant relationship" test (from Bates v. Cook, Inc., 509 So.2d 1112, 1115 (Fla.1987)) to determine in which state the cause of action arose. Madera, 717 F.Supp. at 815. The court applied the significant relationship test, assessed the relationships among the parties, the occurrence and the forum state, and concluded that the cause of action arose in California. The court then held that the action was time-barred in Florida. Id. at 816.

The court next addressed the personal jurisdiction ground of Hall's motion to dismiss. The court determined that the complaint alleged tortious conduct sufficient to bring the defendant within the reach of Florida's long-arm statute. Id. at 817. However, the court concluded that because the Due Process Clause would not countenance the assertion of personal jurisdiction over Hall, the complaint should be dismissed for that reason as well. Id. at 818.

On appeal, Madara claims first that the district court erred in concluding that the cause of action arose in California so that under Florida's borrowing statute, California's one-year statute of limitations governs and the action is time-barred. He argues that the cause of action arose in Florida when copies of the magazine were distributed there, citing Keeton v. Hustler Magazine, Inc., 465 U.S. 770, 104 S.Ct. 1473, 79 L.Ed.2d 790 (1984) and Stepanian v. Addis, 782 F.2d 902 (11th Cir.1986) to support this claim. Madara's second argument on appeal is that the district court erred in holding that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment precludes the exercise of personal jurisdiction over Hall.

The district court ruled on Hall's 12(b)(6) motion, failure to state a claim because the applicable statute of limitations barred the action, before it ruled on his 12(b)(2) motion, lack of personal jurisdiction.

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The court should have addressed the personal jurisdiction question first. We affirm the dismissal because due process does not permit the exercise of personal jurisdiction over Hall in Florida for this cause of action. We vacate the district court's holding regarding application of the California statute of limitations because Hall was not subject to the jurisdiction of the court, and therefore could not be personally bound by its rulings. Therefore, the issue should not have been reached. 1

II. DISCUSSION

We review the dismissal of an action for lack of personal jurisdiction de novo. Alexander Proudfoot Co. World Headquarters L.P. v. Thayer, 877 F.2d 912, 916 (11th Cir.1989) (citations omitted). When a district court does not conduct a discretionary evidentiary hearing on a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, the plaintiff must establish a prima facie case of personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant. Morris v. SSE, Inc., 843 F.2d 489, 492 (11th Cir.1988). A prima facie case is established if the plaintiff presents enough evidence to withstand a motion for directed verdict. Id. The district court must accept the facts alleged in the complaint as true, to the extent they are uncontroverted by the defendant's affidavits. Id. Finally, where the plaintiff's complaint and the defendant's affidavits conflict, the district court must construe all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Id.

The determination of personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant requires a two-part analysis. Cable/Home Communication Corp. v. Network Productions, Inc., 902 F.2d 829, 855 (11th Cir.1990); Alexander Proudfoot Co., 877 F.2d at 919. First, we consider the jurisdictional question under the state long-arm statute. Cable/Home Communication Corp., 902 F.2d at 855; Alexander Proudfoot Co., 877 F.2d at 919. If there is a basis for the assertion of personal jurisdiction under the state statute, we next determine whether sufficient minimum contacts exist to satisfy the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment so that "maintenance of the suit does not offend 'traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.' " International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316, 66 S.Ct. 154, 158, 90 L.Ed. 95 (1945) (quoting Milliken v. Meyer, 311 U.S. 457, 463, 61 S.Ct. 339, 342, 85 L.Ed. 278 (1940)); Cable/Home Communication Corp., 902 F.2d at 855; Alexander Proudfoot Co., 877 F.2d at 919. Only if both prongs of the analysis are satisfied may a federal or state court exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant. The structure of our analysis is unaffected by the fact that this is a libel case; the "personal jurisdiction inquiry in a libel case is the same as that used in all cases...." Army Times Publishing Co. v. Watts, 730 F.2d 1398, 1408 (11th Cir.1984).

  1. Florida Long-Arm Jurisdiction

    The reach of the Florida long-arm statute is a question of Florida law. Therefore, federal courts are required to construe it as would the Florida Supreme Court. Oriental Imports & Exports, Inc. v. Maduro & Curiel's Bank, N.V., 701 F.2d 889, 890-91 (11th Cir.1983); Moore v. Lindsey, 662 F.2d 354, 357-58 (5th Cir. Unit B 1981). 2

    The Florida Supreme Court has recently emphasized that the jurisdictional

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    analysis under the Florida long-arm statute and the jurisdictional analysis under the federal constitution are distinct:

    By enacting [the long-arm statute], the legislature has determined the requisite basis for obtaining jurisdiction over nonresident defendants as far as Florida is concerned. It has not specifically addressed whether the federal constitutional...

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