Civil Procedure Outline
Determining the Proper Court: The Overlap of Personal Jurisdiction, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, and Venue
Things to consider when confronted with jurisdiction problems:
· Subject Matter Jurisdiction
· Personal Jurisdiction (parties or property)
· Notice and Opportunity to Be Heard
· Service of Process
· Waiver (where possible; note that subject matter jurisdiction can never be waived. Waiver of personal jurisdiction, process, and venue is adreesed in FRCP 12(h)(1).
I. Personal Jurisdiction
A. Analyzing Personal Jurisdiction Problems:
1. Service of process in state: Was process served on the defendant while he was present in the forum state?
a. If so, there’s valid personal jurisdiction, no matter how briefly the defendant was in the state and regardless of his purpose in being there.
b. If not: go on to #2.
2. Long arm statute: Does the forum state’s long arm statute provide for jurisdiction over the defendant?
a. Is so, go on to # 3
b. If not, the forum cannot exercise personal jurisdiction over the defendant, even if doing so would be constitutionally permissible on the ground that defendant has minimum contacts with the forum.
3. Consent or domiciled in forum: Has the defendant consented to jurisdiction, or is he domiciled in the forum?
a. If so: he has sufficient contacts with the forum to justify personal jurisdiction.
b. If not: go on to # 4.
4. Voluntary Minimum contacts: Are the defendant’s contacts with the forum voluntary (i.e. are they due to his own conduct, not someone else’s)?
a. If so: go on to # 5.
b. If not: The defendant lacks minimum contacts wit the forum, and it can’t exercise personal jurisdiction over him.
5. Relation of cause of action and contacts: Does the cause of action arise out of or relate to the defendant’s contacts with the forum state?
a. They are related where:
i. Defendant acted in the forum to wrong the plaintiff;
ii. Defendant’s use of the mails instead of going to the forum to harm the plaintiff; and
iii. Defendant’s sending an agent to act on his behalf in the forum and the agent’s committing an act which wrongs the plaintiff.
b. If related: go to # 7.
c. If unrelated: go to # 6.
6. Systematic and continuous: Were the defendant’s contacts with the forum state systematic and continuous?
a. If so: go to # 7.
b. If not: There are not sufficient minimum contacts to justify personal jurisdiction.
7. Reasonableness: Is the assertion of jurisdiction reasonable?That is, does it comport with traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice?
a. Factors to consider:
i. Burden on the defendant;
ii. Interests of the forum state;
iii. The plaintiff’s interest in obtaining relief.
b. Note: If minimum contacts are satisfied, it would be extremely unusual for the exercise of jurisdiction to be unreasonable, because the interests of the plaintiff and the forum will generally justify even a serious burden on the defendant.
i. See Asahi Metals v. Superior Court for exception.
B. Three main ways that assertion of personal jurisdiction fails:
1. Defendant was not present in the forum state when process was served on him;
2. Defendant’s act was not within the scope of the applicable long-arm statute; or
3. Defendant lacks minimum contacts with the forum state, such that its exercise of jurisdiction over him violates due process.
C. A Court Will Have Jurisdiction over a defendant if:
1. Defendant has sufficient minimum contacts with the forum so that the forum’s exercise of jurisdiction over the defendant is reasonable.
2. Defendant’s property has been attached within the forum and there is an appropriate relationship between the property and the claim.
3. Defendant’s contacts with the forum are so substantial that jurisdiction on unrelated claims can be exercised.
4. Defendant expressly, impliedly, or by appearance consented to forum’s exercise of jurisdiction.
5. Defendant was personally served in the forum.
D. Types of Personal Jurisdiction
1. In Personam: Jurisdiction that permits a court to enter a judgment that is personally binding on the defendant, either ordering him to do or refrain from doing a certain act (equitable or injunctive relief) or decreeing that the plaintiff may collect a certain amount of damages from the defendant (legal relief). When asserting in personam jurisdiction, a court may enter an unlimited judgment against the defendant; a recovery including all of the defendant’s assets, with the exception of the basics that are necessary for survival.
a. Effect of in personam jurisdiction: Obtaining in personam jurisdiction gives the court the authority to bind or affect the parties personally.
b. Methods for obtaining in personam jurisdiction
i. Presence within the jurisdiction (forum state) by the defendant, though it must be proved through “service of process” within the state.
(a). Even temporary transient process was sufficient, even when the person was only going to be within the jurisdiction temporarily.
(b). There is even some authority for the ability to serve people when they are flying over the state (Grace v. MacArthur)
(c). Raw Presence theory when pushed to its extreme is rather bothersome.
ii. Seizure of the defendant’s domicile within the forum state.
(a). If a defendant is served with service of process at their domicile, that is considered sufficient, even if they do not reside in the state (p. 71).
(b). This theory is based on the theory that so long as they own property within the state, it is not unfair to make them answer actions against them.
iii. Voluntary General Appearance by the defendant
(a). If a defendant hears about the suit and appers voluntarily to fight it, the court has personal jurisdiction over them, even if the court did not have personal jurisdiction otherwise.
iv. Actual Consent to personal jurisdiction in advance
(a). A person can obtain an agent within the state who can accept personal service for them.
v. Implied Consent: You can impliedly consent when the plaintiff enters into the court system to any counter claims against him (Adam v. Sanger).
(a). This means of gaining personal jurisdiction is effected through long-arm statutes, under which the plaintiff need only show that it is reasonably likely that the subject of the long arm statute occurred in the forum state.
2. In Rem Jurisdiction: Permits a court to adjudicate interests in, or title to, property that is in-state. The locations of the owners, however, is irrelevant.
a. The law suit concerns property within the state, where the only issue is who owns the property, and where the resulting judgment will bind the whole world.
i. These are often the same as actions to quiet title.
3. Quasi In Rem “Ownership”: Gives the court jurisdiction to decide the interests of all parties involved in the action (but not the whole world) in the in-state property in the action.
4. Quasi In Rem “Gimmick”: Gives the court jurisdiction over the interest of a defendant in in-state property, even though the dispute has nothing to do with the property.
a. Typical situation: Usually, a quasi in rem action begins with the attachment of the property not as the object of the litigation but merely as a means of satisfying a judgment against the defendant.
b. Judgment limited to in state property: The judgment in such cases is limited to the in-state property.
c. Binding only on parties: In such actions, the judgment has not res judicata effect, and it is only binding on the parties themselves, and only to the extent of defendant’s attached in-state property.
i. Effect: All that the defendants can lose is their claims to the property.
d. Rule of quasi in rem after Shaffer: The exercise of quasi in rem jurisdiction requires that the defendant have minimum contacts with the forum.
E. Service Within the Jurisdiction
1. In general: Service of process on an out-of-state defendant in the forum state is generally considered sufficient for the assertion of in personam jurisdiction over him.
a. But not-Possible Minimum Contacts Requirement: While the language of Shaffer seemed to imply that even service within the jurisdiction would require minimum contacts, the Court later upheld the constitutionality of transient jurisdiction, obtained by service on a nonresident temporarily within the state, even though the suit was unrelated to the defendant’s activities in the state. Burnham v Superior Court (1990).
i. However, that was not the majority opinion, but it was not dissented from either.
ii. Where unintentional or involuntary: Furthermore, according to some justices’ opinions, if the defendant’s presence in the state was unintentional or involuntary, the ground for jurisdiction may not suffice.
2. Fraudulent Inducement: Where the defendant is personally served in the forum state, the court will not exercise jurisdiction on that ground if the defendant was lured into the jurisdiction by the plaintiff’s false statements. Wyman v. Newhouse.
a. Trickery to effect service: Although fraudulently inducing a defendant into the jurisdiction is generally a defense to service, using trickery to effect service on a defendant already in the jurisdiction generally does not interfere with the effectiveness of service.
1. General Rule: A defendant may consent to jurisdiction in the forum. This consent may be express, implied, or due to the making of a general appearance.
a. Express Consent: Express consent can be made either before or after suit is filed, and suffices to support jurisdiction without reference to other contacts with the forum.
i. Registration by Corporation: In many states, foreign corporation that engage in business in the state are required to register and appoint an agent for service of process in the state, thereby consenting to suit there.
(a). Implied Consent Contrasted: As an adjunct to the registration requirements, states often treat conduct of business in the state to be impliedly appointing a state official, often the secretary of the state, as agent for service of process.
b. Implied Consent: Where the defendant has, by prior agreement or otherwise, consented to jurisdiction.
personam jurisdiction. E.g.,:
i. Nor.Car.Gen.Stat. § 1-75.8(4): Jurisdiction in rem or quasi in rem: Grounds for generally: Jurisdiction in rem or quasi in rem may be invoked: when the defendant has property within this State which has been attached or has a debtor within the State who has been garnished.
H. Minimum Contacts
1. Minimum Contacts Test: To assert in personam jurisdiction over an out-of-state defendant, due process requires only that (a) he have minimum contacts with the forum, and (b) the maintenance of the suit must not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice. International Shoe Co. v. Washington (1945).
a. Shoe Rationale: Where the party having personal jurisdiction asserted over it has received the benefits and protections of the laws of the forum state, including the right to resort to the courts for the enforcements of its rights, it is not unfair to subject it to personal jurisdiction.
b. Minimum contacts in general: Minimum contacts are found when the non-present defendant can reasonably anticipate being haled into court in the forum state, so that it is fair to subject him to forum state jurisdiction.
i. Domicile and consent: Both of these alone constitute minimum contacts.
c. Relevant inquiries:
i. Cause of action related to contacts: A state may exercise jurisdiction over a defendant whose contacts with the state consist of only a single act, provided that that act is what gave rise to the claim for which jurisdiction is being sought, and was deliberately directed toward the state. McGee v. International Life Insurance Co. (1957).
(a). Where claim unrelated: The defendant’s contact with the forum state must be systematic and continuous to subject the defendant to jurisdiction.
(b). Single contact: A single contact with the forum state is not sufficient unless the claim arises from that contact.
ii. Systematic and Continuous Activity: The assertion of in personam jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant based on systematic and continuous contacts with the state is proper. Perkins v. Benguet Consolidated Mining Co. (1952).
(a). Causes of action arising outside jurisdiction: When an activity sued upon does not arise from the defendant’s contacts with the forum state, the defendant’s contacts with that state must be systematic and continuous to satisfy the constitutional due process rights of the defendant.
(b). Mere existence of agent in state: Minimum contacts are not satisfied by the existence of an agent in-state. Three separate factors should be considered:
1. Does the agent transact a significant amount of business for the defendant in-state?
2. Does the defendant have some degree of control over the agent?
3. Is the agent authorized to contract for the defendant (or must his orders be shipped out of state for authorization)?
d. Purposeful Availment Limitation: In order to meet the minimum contacts standard, the defendant must have performed some voluntary activity in the forum state in order to satisfy constitutional due process requirements. That is the defendant must somehow purposefully avail itself of the privilege of conducting in-state activity, thus invoking the benefits and protections of forum laws; only then can it be said to have anticipated being haled into court there. Hanson v. Denckla (1958).
i. Products liability: When the case involves product liability, and the defendant is not present in the forum, the defendant must have made an effort (directly or indirectly) to market in the forum state in order to confer jurisdiction on forum state courts so that he can reasonably anticipate being haled into court there. World-Wide Volkswagen.
(a). Neither foreseeability nor financial benefits suffice: Neither the foreseeability that the product sold would be used in a certain state, nor the financial benefits accruing to the defendant from a collateral relation to the forum State are sufficient for the forum state to assert jurisdiction over the out-of-state defendant. World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson (1980).
1. Foreseeable Hailability Standard: The foreseeability that is critical to due process analysis is that the defendant’s conduct and connection with the forum state are such that he should reasonably anticipate being haled into court there. World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson (1980).