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Civil Procedure I
St. Johns University School of Law
Ruescher, Robert A.



1. Determine whether the exercise of personal jurisdiction is authorized by the state’s long-arm statute (passed by legislature that says under certain circumstances the state can exercise authority over a defendant to bring them into a lawsuit).

2. Determine whether the exercise of jurisdiction is constitutional (Due process clause of the 14th amendment- only applicable to the states, not federal government). In federal cases regarding personal jurisdiction, the court considers constitutionality under the 14th amendment because Rule 4k(1)(a) requires the courts to put themselves in the shoes of the state courts where they are sitting.

2 Bases for Personal Jurisdiction: (1) State sovereignty (every state is like a country) (2) Fairness to the defendant (court cannot be inconvenient for defendant)

*when you get a judgment against a person (in personam), you have a valid claim for judgment against any property they own

*if property is attached to judgment beforehand (in rem) the judgment is only good against that specific property

-RULE 4(k)(1)(a)!!!!!- Federal courts “make believe” they are state courts in order to restrict the courts where an action can be brought

-The 14th Amendment due process clause restricts the states

-Federal court pretends to be state court à then look to the Long-Arm Statute to see if you can get personal jurisdiction

-Long Arm Statute is there to ensure that the state stays within its own boundaries

-Unconstitutional for exercise power over someone who has no connection to the state? Unfairness and state sovereignty

-If Defendant appears in the action, can exercise authority

-If Defendant is present in the jurisdiction when served, can exercise authority

-If Defendant has a domicile (resident) of the state, can exercise authority

These 3 bases confer general jurisdiction**

*Quasi in rem jurisdiction: can’t get jurisdiction over the person, but the person has property in the state, so state can have jurisdiction over the property

Between Pennoyer and International Shoe…

-interstate commerce became more prevalent à it is fair to sue someone who is doing business or other things within the state.

Hess v. Pawloski

– “fictional” appointment of agent of the registrar- the court was trying to stay within Pennoyer v. Neff

International Shoe v. Washington

-re-conceptualizes personal jurisdiction

-changes started in 1945 with this case

-the salesmen were “independent contractors”

-the salesmen were only given one shoe of the pair of shoes

-no contracts were made

-No longer need “the body” of the defendant to have personal jurisdiction

-Not whether a corporation is “present”- what activities is the Defendant engaged in within the state??

-Continuous and systematic v. Casual Presence

(there is jurisdiction) (No jurisdiction)

-Looks at degree of activity and the relation of the activity to the plaintiff’s claim! (did the plaintiff’s claim arise from the subject activity)

-“continuous activity of some sorts…”; if substantial, the court may hold that there is jurisdiction.

(1) Continuous & Systematic + Related = Jurisdiction

(2) Casual + Unrelated = No Jurisdiction

(3) Continuous Activity of Some Sort + Unrelated = Jurisdiction, IF “SUBSTANTIAL”; No Jurisdiction if NOT substantial

(4) Single or Isolated + Related = MAYBE, depending on nature and quality of the circumstances

NOTE: Item #3- if the activity is continuous and systematic, and substantial, and the claim is UNRELATED, the Court DOES HAVE JURISDICTION. This form of personal jurisdiction is called GENERAL JURISDICTION! (The Defendants activity in the forum is so great that we can sue the defendant in that forum (state) on ANY claim, regardless of whether the cause of action / claim is related to the activity.

SPECIFIC JURISDICTION: when the court exercises personally jurisdiction over the defendant because the defendant has conducted activities in or directed at the forum AND the plaintiff’s claim is related to that activity.

-When a corporation has so much activity in a state (home state) that you can sue them for anything à GENERAL JURISDICTION

-Not Home State à SPECIFIC JURISDICTION (must be a connection between the activity and the claim)

-What degree of reaching out to the forum?

McGee v. Int’l Life Insurance Co.

-Texas company mailed reinsurance certificate to the Plaintiff

-Suit brought in CA


” in the state / domiciled in the state (for corporations)

HYPO: wants to sue XYX Inc., they have no connection to NY, but you live in NY, hear that president of XYZ is coming to NY, personally serve the president of XYZ with summons and complaint. à NO GENERAL JURISDICTION FOR CORPORATIONS


-If you are incorporated in a state, you appoint the secretary of state of NY as my agent for service of process

McGee, Hansen:

-Court was trying to understand that its not just activity within the state, the activity has to be directed at the state

-elaborate / develop the concept of Int’l Shoe

-Purposeful availment!!

-McGee: there was purposeful availment, there was the reaching out to CA by the insurance company in Texas,

Hansen: understand the FACTS!

-Trust company was sued in Florida, but the bank had never reached out to Florida

-it established the original relationship with a woman in Delaware

-Bank followed the business down to Florida because she moved there, the bank had no choice but to follow her


-beginning of discussion of “stream of commerce” theory

-if the manufacturer had awareness of where the product was going, they could be subject to jurisdiction in that state

-the valve manufacturer could have foreseen that they would benefit from the sales in that state


-More than just foreseeability, no jurisdiction because purposeful availment was lacking.

-Minimum contacts for specific jurisdiction; added the “fairness factors”

-If unsure if there is purposeful availment, the court can look to the fairness factors

-fairness factors are the 2nd step; courts look to minimum contacts first