– Summary by Anna Lusk
On May 26, 2022, the Supreme Court of Florida resolved a discrepancy between two lower court decisions. The lower courts were divided on whether a trial court may order a defendant over whom the court has jurisdiction to act on foreign property pursuant to Florida Statutes. The Supreme Court ruled that lower courts may order a defendant to act on foreign property.
This case involves a licensing agreement between parties and the proceeds from the sale of a medical device company. Buechel, 46 Fla. L. Weekly at D266. The Creditors won at trial, where the trial court ruled for them to receive damages. During the proceedings, the Creditors discovered that Shim (Plaintiff) sold his stock in the other Judgment Debtor to a third party and held a portion of his proceeds ($4,000,000) in a safe at his home in South Korea. Shim v. Buechel, No. 2013-CA-1449-O order at 2. The Creditors filed a motion to have Shim return the proceeds to Creditors. The trial court reasoned that Florida courts do not have jurisdiction over foreign property. The Creditors appealed the case and won. The Appellate Court explained that Florida Statute section 56.29(6) authorizes a trial court to order a debtor, over whom the court has jurisdiction, to act on assets located outside of the court’s territorial jurisdiction. The Supreme Court noted that a separate trial court ruled that a Florida Court does not have jurisdiction over property outside of Florida.
The Supreme Court ruled that Florida Courts holding jurisdiction over a party may order that party to act on foreign property. The Court noted that Florida Statute 56.29(6) gives Florida trial courts broad authority to carry out monetary judgments. The Supreme Court also noted that when determining the meaning of a statute, courts should not make policy considerations when the statute’s meaning is clear. Because Florida Statute 56.29(6) unambiguously gives Florida courts broad authority to carry out monetary judgments, the Court decided that the trial courts may order this defendant to act on foreign property.