The Supreme Court recently held in Kitroser, et al. v. Hurt, et al. (SC11-25) that the corporate shield doctrine does not preclude Florida courts from exercising personal jurisdiction over an individual who commits a tort in Florida while acting on behalf of a corporation.
A plain reading of the Florida’s long-arm statute, Section 48.193(1), Florida Statute (2011), provides that any person who, directly or through an agent, commits any of an enumerated set of actions in the state subjects himself or herself to the jurisdiction of Florida courts. However, a spilt in the district courts apparently followed Doe v. Thompson, 620 So.2d 1004 (Fla. 1993), where the court held that the president of a corporation could not be haled into a Florida court as a result of negligent acts committed by the president, acting in his corporate capacity and on behalf of the corporation, for acts committed outside of the state. Relying on the Supreme Court’s assertion that the rationale behind the corporate shield doctrine was that “it is unfair to force an individual to defend a suit brought against him personally in a forum with which his only relevant contacts are acts performed not for his own benefit but for the benefit of his employer”, Doe at 1006, some districts held that tortious acts, even if performed personally in the state, would not give rise to personal jurisdiction over the tortfeasor if the action was performed in the person’s capacity as a corporate employee. Kitroser clarifies Florida’s personal jurisdiction law; “[j]urisdiction properly applies to ‘any person’ who commits torts ‘within this state.’” Op. at 12.