Jurisdiction: Where Will You Be Sued?
Many businesses think a lot about whether they can be sued. That’s smart thinking; nobody wants to be on the wrong end of a lawsuit. But have you thought about where you can be sued? The country is filled with courthouses, federal and state, in districts and counties. You should not just assume that because you are a Florida business, you will only be sued in Florida.
Why Being Sued Far Away Can Cause Difficulty
Being sued in a far off state, or on the other side of the country, can create huge headaches for you; it can transform an otherwise very affordable and defensible claim, into something much more uncertain and expensive.
The distance between you and the courtroom where your lawsuit is being heard can prevent you from being an active participant in the lawsuit. It is hard for you to just drop by and attend hearings or depositions. And if you are ordered to attend a court proceeding, you now have the added cost of travel, and time away from your business and family to deal with. This can happen multiple times, over the course of a longer case.
You may not even be able to use your choice of attorney; attorneys are licensed only in certain states. You may end up having to use a law firm that you are unfamiliar with, just because that law firm is licensed in the state where the lawsuit is being heard.
Getting Sued Far Away: Can it Happen?
It’s easier for you to be hauled into court in a faraway court than you may think. You may advertise a product in one state, contract with a company in another state, or use products or services from another state—all of these, potentially, bring you into the jurisdiction of these multiple states.
If you make a product and it is advertised and sold nationwide, your product can be the subject of a lawsuit anywhere that it is sold. If you contract with contractors, suppliers, warehouses, professionals, or distributors, you may be subject to sued anywhere that they are located.
The good news is that just being online doesn’t mean you can be sued anywhere your website can be seen. But once you “target” a state or area with an ad, or start selling a product or service or entering into contracts in a given state, you are subject to that state’s jurisdiction.
Courts will also look to see if you have what is known as minimum contacts with a state. The court will want to see if you have an office in a given state, employees in a different state, whether you pay any kind of taxes to another state, or if it is fair and reasonable under the circumstances, for you to anticipate that you could potentially be sued in a given state.
Call our Fort Lauderdale business law lawyers at Sweeney Law P.A. at 954 440-3993 for help if you are sued here, or anywhere that you need legal help.