Cortez v. Palace Resorts, Inc., No. SC11-1908 (Fl. Sup. Ct. June 20, 2013) [click for opinion]
Plaintiff is a California citizen who filed suit in Florida against Mexican and Florida defendants for claims related to a sexual assault she suffered at a Mexican resort as well as a claim for negligent vacation packaging that occurred in Florida. The only remaining claim at the time the case was considered by the Third District Court of Appeal and the Florida Supreme Court was Plaintiff's negligent vacation packaging claim against the Florida Defendants.
The Third District Court of Appeal approved the dismissal of Plaintiff's lawsuit in Florida, concluding that Mexico was an adequate alternative forum and reasoning that Plaintiff's initial selection of a Florida forum was not entitled to a strong presumption of deference because Plaintiff is a California resident.
On appeal, the Florida Supreme Court found that the Third District Court of Appeal erred by misapplying the Florida Supreme Court's decision in Kinney System, Inc. v. Continental Insurance Co., by finding that Plaintiff, by virtue of residing out-of-state, was not entitled to the strong presumption against disturbing Plaintiff's initial choice of forum. The court noted that the strong presumption in favor of a plaintiff’s choice of forum is not limited to Florida residents, but extends to any U.S. citizen.
Second, the Florida Supreme Court found that the Third District Court of Appeal erred in its analysis of the private interest factors by treating Plaintiff's cause of action as if it had no connection with Florida. This was an error because, though the assault occurred in Mexico, Plaintiff's only remaining allegation related to negligent actions in Florida by Florida Defendants.
The court thus quashed the Third District Court of Appeal's decision.