When it comes to venue, there is a rather unknown venue statute that benefits resident contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers working on Florida projects. This statute, Fla. Stat. s. 47.025, states:
Any venue provision in a contract for improvement to real property which requires legal action involving a resident contractor, subcontractor, sub-subcontractor, or materialman, as defined in part I of chapter 713, to be brought outside this state is void as a matter of public policy. To the extent that the venue provision in the contract is void under this section, any legal action arising out of that contract shall be brought only in this state in the county where the defendant resides, where the cause of action accrued, or where the property in litigation is located, unless, after the dispute arises, the parties stipulate to another venue.
Believe it or not, there is not a lot of case law discussing the application of this statute. In a 2000 case, Kerr Const., Inc. v. Peters Contracting, Inc., 767 So.2d 610, 613 (Fla. 5th DCA 2000), the Fifth District explained:
In applying the above rules of construction to section 47.025, we note that section 47.025 provides that forum selection clauses in contracts for improvements to real property are void if they require that legal action involving a resident contractor or subcontractor be instituted outside Florida. Thus, the statute merely requires that venue lie in Florida for disputes arising under these specific types of contracts. Accordingly, the statute does not affect the substantive rights of the parties. It merely requires that those substantive rights be adjudicated by a Florida court.
While this statute does not affect any choice of law provision in the contract, it does benefit a resident contractor, subcontractor, or supplier working on a Florida project by requiring such dispute to be litigated in a Florida court. This is certainly beneficial to a Florida contractor, subcontractor, or supplier that enters into a contract for a Florida job that requires the entity to litigate in a jurisdiction outside of Florida. Litigating in your home state is probably better than being required to litigate in a foreign jurisdiction.
Please contact David Adelstein at firstname.lastname@example.org or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.