Question: Publix Supermarkets, Inc. is a Florida Corporation with its principle offices located in Lakeland, Polk County, Florida (“Publix”). Publix’s corporate offices are located in the Tenth (10th) Judicial Circuit of the State of Florida. Publix has retail supermarket locations though out the State of Florida as well as other locations in the Southeastern part of the United States. Publix has several retail supermarket locations in Hillsborough County Florida. Hillsborough Country is in the Thirteenth (13th) Judicial District for the State of Florida. The Tenth Judicial Circuit and the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit of the State of Florida are in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida. Cases arising in the Tenth Judicial Circuit and the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit of the State of Florida that may be brought in a federal court would be heard initially in the United States District Court for the Middle District of the State of Florida.
Some of the retail items sold to the public in the Publix stores located in Hillsborough County are delivered from a Publix distribution center located in Lakeland, Florida. The goods are delivered from the distribution center to the retail locations in Hillsborough County via a fleet of trucks owned by Publix and operated by Publix employees.
Sam Straight, a 30-year employee of Publix, is driving a Publix tractor trailer truck north bound on I-275 near downtown Tampa, Florida. Sam has the appropriate credentials to drive a tractor trailer truck in the State of Florida. He has been driving for Publix for 25 years of the 30 years he has been employed by Publix. Sam is driving under the posted speed limit and he is preparing to merge onto I-4 eastbound to return to the Publix distribution center in Lakeland.
Fred Fragile is a resident of the State of Georgia. His home is in DeKalb County Georgia, in the jurisdiction of the DeKalb County State Court. He is driving his motor home on the entrance ramp to northbound I-275 in downtown Tampa after a visit to the Florida Aquarium. Fred has the appropriate credentials to operate a motor home in the State of Georgia and Florida. He is driving under the posted speed limit. Fred wishes to merge onto I-275 and eventually travel northbound on I-275 to take I-75 northbound to return to his home in Georgia. When Fred merges onto I-275 northbound, he wants to move over one lane to his left to take I-275 North. When he enters I-275 North bound his vehicle is side by side with the Publix tractor trailer truck driven by Sam Straight. Sam wishes to merge one lane to his right to facilitate taking I-4 East to Lakeland. As the two vehicles negotiate the interchange, they come into contact with each other resulting in a multi-car accident closing I-275 North for several hours. Sam and Fred do not suffer any injuries because of the accident. Damage to Fred’s motor home totals $40,000. Damage to the Publix tractor trailer totals $25,000.
An extensive investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol has identified four people who were driving in the vicinity of the two vehicles at the time of the accident. One witness lives in Plant City, Florida. The second witness lives in Orlando, Florida. The third witness lives in Daytona Beach, Florida and the fourth witness lives in Toronto, Ontario.
Both Fred and Publix believe that there is evidence to suggest that either Fred or Sam is responsible for causing the accident. In answering the following questions, it is not necessary for you to discuss the potential for liability on the part of Publix and/or Fred.
A. If either Fred or Publix wishes to bring a claim to recover the damage to their respective vehicles, discuss the procedural steps that either party must take to initiate their claim. Discuss further the procedural steps the other party must take in response to a claim. Discuss what may occur in the event the defendant in the action fails to follow the required procedural steps if a claim is brought against them.
B. If Publix wishes to bring a claim against Fred for the damage to its tractor trailer, in addition to the steps discussed in your response to question 1 above, what elements must be present to bring the claim in a Florida court? What elements must be present to bring the claim in a Georgia court? Which state court, in your judgment, is mostly likely to hear the case?
C. If Fred wishes to bring a claim against Publix what elements must be present to hear the claim in a Georgia court? What elements must be present to hear the claim in a Florida Court?
D. The accident occurred in the Thirteenth Judicial District for the State of Florida. Publix’s corporate headquarters are in the Tenth Judicial District for the State of Florida. Assuming for the purpose of answering this question, that the litigation would be proper in either judicial district, what legal doctrine will be used to determine which district court will hear the case? If Fred’s claim is brought in the State of Florida, which district court, in your judgment, is most likely to hear the case?
E. Under what doctrine could Fred’s claim be brought in the United States District Court for the Middle District of the State of Florida? What requirements must be met in order for the claim to be brought in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida? Are those requirements satisfied in this case?