Jaffe v. Snow, No. 91-1918

CourtCourt of Appeal of Florida (US)
Writing for the CourtW. SHARP
Citation610 So.2d 482
Parties17 Fla. L. Week. D2551 Ruth JAFFE, Appellant, v. Hardy M. SNOW, Jr. and Accredited Surety & Casualty Company, Inc., Appellees.
Docket NumberNo. 91-1918
Decision Date13 November 1992

Page 482

610 So.2d 482
17 Fla. L. Week. D2551
Ruth JAFFE, Appellant,
v.
Hardy M. SNOW, Jr. and Accredited Surety & Casualty Company,
Inc., Appellees.
No. 91-1918.
District Court of Appeal of Florida,
Fifth District.
Nov. 13, 1992.
Rehearing Denied Jan. 12, 1993.

Steven L. Brannock, of Holland & Knight, Tampa, and Jenny Hatfield-Lyon, of Davis, Ward & Beck, Toronto, Ontario, for appellant.

E. Thom Rumberger and Sharon L. Stedman, of Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell, Orlando, for appellees.

Page 483

Raymond T. Elligett, Jr., of Schropp, Buell & Elligett, P.A., Tampa, for Amicus Curiae of the Government of Canada.

M. Roy Goldberg, of Davis, Graham & Stubbs, Washington, D.C., for Amicus Curiae of the International Human Rights Law Group.

W. SHARP, Judge.

Ruth Jaffe appeals from a final summary judgment which denied her petition to recognize and enforce a large money judgment she obtained in Canada against Accredited Surety & Casualty Company, Inc., a Florida company, and its president, Hardy Snow, a Florida resident. The trial judge based his decision not to recognize and enforce the Canadian judgment on the sole ground that to do so would violate the public policy of Florida. We agree and affirm.

This is an unusually complicated case overlaid by a tide of other court proceedings in Florida, the United States federal courts and Canada. 1 Because the proper application of the public-policy bar to granting comity to the Canadian judgment turns on these unique facts and collateral court proceedings, we will recite them in some detail. We borrow in part from the summary judgment entered below and recitations by other courts which have been called upon to deal with various phases of the Jaffe saga.

The trial judge found:

In 1980, Sidney L. Jaffe ("Mr. Jaffe"), a U.S. citizen, was charged in the Circuit Court of Putnam County, Florida, with 28 counts of violations of the 'Florida Uniform Land Sales Practices Law,' section 498.033(31), Florida Statutes (1979). A violation of this statute is a felony crime. After his arrest, Mr. Jaffe posted a $137,500 bail bond written by Accredited in order to secure his release from jail, and immediately went to Canada where he and Mrs. Jaffe (Ruth) took up residence ...

The copy of the bond in the record discloses that Sidney gave as his residence an address in San Francisco, California, and he pledged not to change his address without notice to Accredited. The bond contains the usual promise to appear in the Florida criminal case, and it also gives the surety the express right to apprehend, arrest, and surrender his principal to "the proper official at any time provided by law." This latter provision is consistent with case law in the United States, which permits a bondsman to take his principal by force from any place he is found, within the United States, back to the proper jurisdiction for trial. 2 Apparently the law of Canada is different from Florida's on this issue, and Accredited did not have common law authority to return Sidney from Canada to Florida, under Canadian law. Kear v. Hilton, 699 F.2d 181 (4th Cir.1983).

But, we are getting ahead of the story:

On the day he (Jaffe) was scheduled for trial, Mr. Jaffe failed to appear. A motion for continuance filed by his attorneys was denied, a warrant was issued for his arrest, and Accredited's bail bond was forfeited. 1 The prosecuting attorney then filed a criminal charge of Failure to Appear, section 843.15(1)(a), Fla.Stat. (1979). A violation of this statute is a felony crime. The prosecuting attorney subsequently made two applications to the Florida Governor seeking to extradite Mr. Jaffe from Canada, both of which applications were denied. The record does not show the basis for the denials. 2

Page 484

Mr. Jaffe remained in Canada and 'exhibited a determination to remain there in violation of his undertaking to return to Florida to answer the charges.' Kear at 181, 182.

Snow and Accredited then hired two professional bail recovery agents, Johnson and Kear, to go to Canada, apprehend Mr. Jaffe and surrender him to the Putnam County Sheriff, which they did. 3 Mr. Jaffe was tried, convicted, and sentenced on all 28 counts of Unlawful Land Sales Practices; however, his convictions and sentences were later reversed. His convictions and sentence for Failure to Appear was affirmed. Jaffe I. Contrary to plaintiff's assertion, the Unlawful Land Sales Practices charges were not 'unfounded.' As the District Court of Appeal made clear in Jaffe II, the reversals were not based upon insufficient evidence but rather upon the legal insufficiency of the charging document.

Prior to the reversal of the land sales counts on appeal, Jaffe was indicted in Putnam County for organized crime charges in connection with the fraudulent land sales. After serving part of his time on the failure to appear crime, Jaffe was paroled. In 1983 he was again allowed to post a bond (for $150,000) to secure his return for trial on the organized crime charges in Putnam County. See Jaffe v. Smith, 825 F.2d 304 (11th Cir.1987).

Jaffe traveled back to Canada, but has not yet reappeared in Florida. The second bond was forfeited in 1985. He has not at this time been brought to trial on those charges.

Safe beyond the borders of the United States:

i]n 1985, Mr. Jaffe and Mrs. Jaffe brought suit in the Supreme Court of Ontario, Canada, against Snow and Accredited and other defendants seeking money damages for Mr. Jaffe's tortious abduction. 4

Snow and Accredited appeared in the action through Canadian counsel, and after their motions to dismiss based on grounds of want of personal jurisdiction and forum non conveniens were denied, they declined to further defend the action. On November 22, 1990, the Canadian court entered a separate judgment in favor of Mrs. Jaffe only 5 against Snow and Accredited awarding her general damages in the amount of $25,000 Canadian dollars; special damages in the amount of $903,481.47 United States dollars and $88,293.56 Canadian dollars; prejudgment interest in the amount of $498,089.33 in United States dollars and $62,458.74 Canadian dollars the total amount to bear interest at the rate of 14% per annum.

The two bondsmen or "recovery agents", Kear and Johnson, were extradited to Canada to stand trial on kidnapping charges. Kear. That court applied to this saga the "old adage that two wrongs do not make a

Page 485

right." Kear. They were convicted and sentenced to "time served."

All parties in this case agree that other possible defenses to the recognition and enforcement of the Canadian judgment, such as lack of personal jurisdiction, or due process have not been sufficiently established by this record to support the summary judgment in Accredited's and Snow's favor. Thus this appeal stands or falls on the public policy grounds enunciated by the trial court.

As the trial judge stated, recognition and enforcement of a foreign country's judgment in Florida is a matter of "comity," and it is up to the courts of this state to make that determination in each particular case. 3 Recognition is not required by the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Federal Constitution, 4 which is applicable to sister-state and United States territories' court judgments. 5

Comity is therefore a more flexible concept than is required by the Full Faith and Credit Clause, 6 although Florida in the overwhelming number of cases, recognizes and enforces the judgments of other nations. 7 This is particularly true of countries having a system of jurisprudence which has developed from the same historical roots as our own, such as Canada. 8

However, no jurisdiction will give comity to the judgment of another nation that offends that jurisdiction's public policy and sense of moral justice. 9 In this case, had Sidney Jaffe sought to enforce a Canadian judgment against his surety in this state, there are many public policy reasons why a Florida court would refuse to recognize and enforce it, which go far beyond the fact that the law of Canada (bounty hunters cannot single-handedly arrest and return a bond-jumper to the court which accepted the bond) is different than Florida's law. See Kear v. Hilton, 699 F.2d 181 (4th Cir.1983) and In re Walton, 11 O.L.R. 94 (1905).

For one, Sidney Jaffe is a fugitive from justice in the eyes of the Florida courts, having "jumped bond" in this jurisdiction not once, but twice. And, there are still criminal charges pending against him in this state from which he has fled rather than faced. Simply stated, "a fugitive from justice is not entitled to call upon the resources of court for determination of his case." Garcia v. Metro-Dade Police Department, 576 So.2d 751, 752 (Fla. 3d DCA 1991); United States v. One Lot of U.S. Currency Totalling $506,537, 628 F.Supp. 1473, 1475 (S.D.Fla.1986). Stated another way, a fugitive from justice "cannot eat his cake and have it too." United States v. Eng, 951 F.2d 461, 462 (2d Cir.1991).

The United States Supreme Court and the Florida Supreme Court have long held that courts may dismiss the appeals of criminal defendants who flee the jurisdiction while their appeals are pending. Molinaro v. New Jersey, 396 U.S. 365, 90 S.Ct. 498, 24 L.Ed.2d 586 (1970); State v. Gurican,

Page 486

76 So.2d 709 (Fla.1991). In Molinaro, the court held that while an escape does not strip the case of its character as an adjudicable case or controversy, the escape "disentitles" the defendant to call upon the resources of the court for determination of his claims. 396 U.S. at 365-366, 90 S.Ct. at 498-499

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  • Hochendoner v. Genzyme Corp., Civil Action Nos. 11–10739–DPW
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Massachusetts
    • 25 Marzo 2015
    ...841, 849 (Cal.Ct.App.2011), aff'd in part and rev'd in part, 55 Cal.4th 275, 145 Cal.Rptr.3d 543, 282 P.3d 1242 (2012) ; Jaffe v. Snow, 610 So.2d 482, 488 (Fla.Dist.Ct.App.1992) ; 95 F.Supp.3d 35Long v. Chelsea Cmty. Hosp., 219 Mich.App. 578, 557 N.W.2d 157, 162 (1996), abrogated on other g......
  • Jaffe v. Accredited Surety and Casualty Co., Inc., No. 01-1628.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • 25 Junio 2002
    ...For these reasons, the Florida trial court granted summary judgment to Accredited; the Florida appellate court affirmed. Jaffe v. Snow, 610 So.2d 482 In 1994, a Canadian court, after a full trial, issued a comprehensive, 93-page decision resolving the Jaffes' claims as to the remaining defe......
  • Dunkel v. Hedman, NO. 3:15-CV-948-J-34PDB
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
    • 17 Agosto 2016
    ...a matter of equity or public policy, a spouse may not recover for loss of consortium if caused by her spouse's wrongdoing. Jaffe v. Snow, 610 So. 2d 482, 488 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1992); accord Ashwood v. Patterson, 49 So. 2d 848, 850 (Fla. 1951) ("There is ... a fundamental equitable p......
  • Dunkel v. Hamilton, No. 3:15-cv-949-J-34PDB
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Middle District of Florida
    • 8 Agosto 2016
    ...of equity or public policy, hold a spouse may not recover for loss of consortium if caused by her spouse's wrongdoing. See Jaffe v. Snow, 610 So. 2d 482, 488 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1992) (wife's loss of consortium claim was "the consequence of her husband's own wrong and she should not b......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
11 cases
  • Hochendoner v. Genzyme Corp., Civil Action Nos. 11–10739–DPW
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Massachusetts
    • 25 Marzo 2015
    ...841, 849 (Cal.Ct.App.2011), aff'd in part and rev'd in part, 55 Cal.4th 275, 145 Cal.Rptr.3d 543, 282 P.3d 1242 (2012) ; Jaffe v. Snow, 610 So.2d 482, 488 (Fla.Dist.Ct.App.1992) ; 95 F.Supp.3d 35Long v. Chelsea Cmty. Hosp., 219 Mich.App. 578, 557 N.W.2d 157, 162 (1996), abrogated on other g......
  • Jaffe v. Accredited Surety and Casualty Co., Inc., No. 01-1628.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • 25 Junio 2002
    ...For these reasons, the Florida trial court granted summary judgment to Accredited; the Florida appellate court affirmed. Jaffe v. Snow, 610 So.2d 482 In 1994, a Canadian court, after a full trial, issued a comprehensive, 93-page decision resolving the Jaffes' claims as to the remaining defe......
  • Dunkel v. Hedman, NO. 3:15-CV-948-J-34PDB
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
    • 17 Agosto 2016
    ...a matter of equity or public policy, a spouse may not recover for loss of consortium if caused by her spouse's wrongdoing. Jaffe v. Snow, 610 So. 2d 482, 488 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1992); accord Ashwood v. Patterson, 49 So. 2d 848, 850 (Fla. 1951) ("There is ... a fundamental equitable p......
  • Dunkel v. Hamilton, No. 3:15-cv-949-J-34PDB
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Middle District of Florida
    • 8 Agosto 2016
    ...of equity or public policy, hold a spouse may not recover for loss of consortium if caused by her spouse's wrongdoing. See Jaffe v. Snow, 610 So. 2d 482, 488 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1992) (wife's loss of consortium claim was "the consequence of her husband's own wrong and she should not b......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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