Personal Jurisdiction – Whether the state or federal Court has the power to render judgment against a particular defendant. Traditionally, service of process if required within the particular state. Today, states allow suits to be brought against Defendants outside the state due to statutory enactments or for individuals engaged in certain types of business activities. Under the FRCP, an individual who fails to make an objection to personal jurisdiction initially or at the time of bringing other preliminary motions or in an answer that is not preceded by any preliminary motions is said to have waived personal jurisdiction. Courts may allow a special appearance in the state for the purpose of challenging personal jurisdiction without subjecting the individual to potential service of process; however, this immunity from service is discretionary (N. Light Tech)
Origins (Pennoyer v. Neff 1877 No longer the law) – While every state has exclusive control over citizens and property within its boundaries, 3 theories exist for jurisdiction over out of state defendants:
1. in personam—Where a person is served process within the state, the state has jurisdiction over the individual, service by publication is not sufficient
2. in rem— Where an individual owns property in a particular state, the state has jurisdiction over the owner of the property to decide issued related to the property
3. quasi in rem—Where an individual owns property in a particular state and the property is attached in an action unrelated to the property, thereby giving jurisdiction over the property owner
4. Exceptions—a) Courts may decide issues relating to civil status and capacities of its residents even where jurisdiction could not be asserted in another manner against one of the parties. For instance, in divorce actions or parent rights. b) States may gain personal jurisdiction through consent of the parties and may require businesses to designate an agent for service within the state.
Modern View—To meet due process requirements under the federal constitution, a corporation will be subject to the jurisdiction of any state with which it has “minimum contacts” that make the exercise of jurisdiction consistent with “traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice. 3 Part Test
1. Minimum Contacts–The minimum contacts requirement can be met where the corporate activities are continuous and systematic or where the activity that gives rise to liability occurred within the state. (International Shoe) A state may exercise jurisdiction over a defendant whose contact with that state consists of only a single act, provided that the act is what gave rise to the claim for which jurisdiction is being sought, and was deliberately directed toward the state. (McGee).
2. Purposeful Availment– In order to subject a defendant to jurisdiction, the Defendant must have “purposely availed itself of the privilege of conducting activities within the forum State, thus invoking the benefits and protections of its laws. (Hanson). The forum state may assert jurisdiction over a corporation that delivers its products into the stream of commerce with the expectation that they will be purchased by consumers in the forum state (World Wide VW). However, merely placing an item into the stream of commerce is not sufficient to satisfy the purposeful availment requirement, there must be some action purposely directed toward the forum state (Asahi Metal). Utilization of the forum states judicial services in prior litigation could qualify as purposeful availment when the defendant in a prior action becomes the plaintiff in a subsequent action between the same parties which arises out of the same transaction (Yahoo).
3. Fair Play and Substantial Justice—Factors that may be considered when determining if exercising jurisdiction is reasonable and comports with notions of fair play and substantial justice include the burden on the defendant, the State’s interest in adjudicating the dispute, the plaintiff’s interest in obtaining convenient and effective relief, the judicial systems interest in obtaining the most efficient resolution, and the interests of the states in furthering shared social policies. (World Wide VW). Once it has made a prima facie showing that the defendant has minimum contacts with a state, it is up to the defendant to prove that being required to defend a suit there would be “fundamentally unfair”. (Burger King)
4. Internet Business/Special Category (Pavlovich)—Where a defendant has posted information passively on an internet website which is accessible to users in foreign jurisdictions, there are no grounds for the exercise of personal jurisdiction. Where a defendant clearly does business over the internet and enters into contracts with residents of foreign jurisdictions that involve the knowing and repeated transmission of computer files, personal jurisdiction is proper. Where an interactive website exists which allows an exchange of information between the host computer and users in foreign jurisdictions, the exercise of jurisdiction is determined by examining the level of interactivity and commercial nature of the exchange of information.
e names and addresses of the parties are unknown. The requirement is that a reasonable method be used, not the best possible method. (Mullane)
Self Imposed Restraints on Jurisdictional Power
Long Arm Statute—States may make statutory enactments describing when the state can exercise personal jurisdiction. However, these statutes may not exceed the limits imposed by due process and thus may only act to limit personal jurisdiction to less than what is provided in International show. If no long arm statute is given, then apply International Shoe. If long arm statute does exist, then determine if a defendant fits within the statute and then apply the constitutional analysis of international shoe or determine if general jurisdiction exists. Always look at long-arm statutes first. If jurisdiction isn’t granted under the statute, then you don’t have to look at the constitutional issues. Where a case is brought under diversity jurisdiction in federal court, then apply the long arm statute of the state in which suit is brought (Rule 4k1); however, where the case is in federal court under a question of federal law, then apply International Shoe unless a federal long arm statute exists (Rule 4k2).
Pendent Personal Jurisdiction—The 4th Circuit has found that a district court which has obtained personal jurisdiction over a defendant by reason of a federal claim may adjudicate state claims properly within the court’s subject matter jurisdiction. That is, where a federal question is being decided by a federal court, some courts will allow the state court claims to be brought at the same time even if the state long arm statute would act to prevent such a claim if it were brought in state court or brought in federal court under diversity but without the federal question.
Venue (28 USC 1391)–Venue determines where the litigation takes place. Venue is considered a personal right and may be waived, through failing to raise it in response to P’s complaint, or through a forum-selection clause . It is based upon statutory limitation on the geographic location of the litigation. If there are a number of federal district courts within a state,