The Ferraro Law Firm represented MIA, the appellee in this appeal. In the underlying lawsuit, MIA sought damages against Hyba and its principals for breach of contract, fraud in the inducement, negligent misrepresentation, breach of warranty, and conspiracy in connection with Hyba’s sale of what were purported to be genuine high-end handbags, but which were, instead, counterfeit knock-offs. On July 1, 2021, the trial court entered a final default judgment in the amount of $974,610.48 against Hyba for liquidated damages and costs, while reserving jurisdiction to consider any subsequent unliquidated damages.

Thereafter, Hyba filed a motion to quash service of process, arguing that MIA failed to effectuate substituted service upon Hyba, a non-resident LLC, (located in Dubai). After conducting an evidentiary hearing, the trial court rejected Hyba’s principal’s self-serving testimony, and denied the motion to quash.

The issue on appeal was whether MIA had properly effectuated service upon Hyba. MIA successfully argued that section 48.181(1), Fla. Stat., applies to service of process on nonresidents doing business in the state who have no registered agent in the state, and that under section 48.181(1), service upon the Secretary of State is treated as personal service, which does not require additional service upon the foreign LLC. Thus, where, as here, MIA alleged that Hyba was engaged in business in the state and failed to register or provide a registered agent in the state, it relied on section 48.181, served the Secretary of State, and, pursuant to section 48.181(1), that service was ascribed the same validity as if it had been served personally on the person or foreign corporation.

Specifically, MIA argued that under the statute, “[t]he acceptance of the privilege [of doing business in this state] is signification of the agreement of the persons and foreign corporations that the process against them which is so served is of the same validity as if served personally on the persons or foreign corporations.” § 48.181(1), Fla. Stat.  Because MIA properly pled the jurisdictional requirements to bring service of process on Hyba under the ambit of section 48.181; it was undisputed that the Secretary of State was duly served; and section 48.181(1) treats the Secretary of State in such cases as personal service upon the “designated agent,” service was perfected upon Hyba. 

The Third District Court of Appeal agreed and affirmed the Judgment on appeal. See Hyba General Trading, LLC v. MIA Collection Services, LLC, 357 So. 3d 764 (Fla. App. 3d DCA 2023).