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Civil Procedure I
Wayne State University Law School
Dubinsky, Paul Richard

Personal Jurisdiction

Personal jurisdiction generally.

What is personal jurisdiction?

Personal Jurisdiction is a court’s power over the parties who are involved in a case. It is different from subject matter jurisdiction.
In order for a court (state or federal) to hear a case, that court must have jurisdiction. A court may not subject a person outside its jurisdiction to its decisions. To do so is unconstitutional.
There are two types of personal jurisdiction.

In personam: Jurisdiction over the defendant.
In rem: Jurisdiction over property.

Differences between in personam and in rem jurisdiction:

In personam jurisdiction is obtained by personal service whereas in rem jurisdiction is obtained by attaching property.
In personam cases the judgment binds the defendant whereas in an in rem case jurisdiction is limited to the attached property and the amount of recovery by the plaintiff is limited to the value of the property.

There are two ways to get jurisdiction:

Specific jurisdiction: The cause of action arises out of the contacts with forum state.
General jurisdiction: Contacts must be continuous and systematic with the forum state but the cause of action need not arise out of the contacts.

Personal Jurisdiction- A court in the United States cannot exercise power over a defendant if doing so would “ deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

– This doctrine focuses on the defendant, who is being taken to court against his will.

Under the Constitution, the Supreme Court of the United States is created. It vested in Congress the power whether or not to create subsidiary courts, as in federal courts.
Article 3 section 2- federal courts have the right to litigate disputes between citizens of different states, where the federal government is a party, between two or more states, between a state and citizens of a different state, and between citizens of different states.

Article 1. Section 8 Congress can also create bankruptcy courts.
The president appoints the federal judges with the confirmation of the Senate. Article 2 section 1.

Government of the U.S and federal judiciary have limited powers articulated in the Constitution

Article IV Constitution -Full faith and credit clause

The 14th amendment was a civil war amendment and extended the due process of law to all the states

Subject matter jurisdiction- some courts are said to be courts of general jurisdiction. This means that they can hear any kind of claim between any persons unless there is legal authority saying that they cannot hear a particular kind.

Pennoyer v. Neff
95 U.S. 714 (1877)
Facts/ History

In Personam (Personal) Jurisdiction Dispute was not in rem, i.e. not about property initially; rather it was over services rendered by Mitchell to Neff

– Mitchell sued Neff, for unpaid legal services in Oregon
– Neff was at the time of the suit considered a “non- resident of the state who was not personally serviced with the process, nor did he appear in court”
– Mitchell published the summons and complaint in fine print on the newspaper
– Judgment was entered upon his default in not answering the complaint. (Mitchell acquired judgment upon default, was owed by Neff)
– This land was seized and sold to satisfy the judgment, upon which Pennoyer purchased the land.
– After Neff reappeared and discovered his land was sold, he brought a second lawsuit against Pennoyer to recover his land.
– Court held that judgment is not valid. A court may not assert jurisdiction over a person outside the state through personal service.
– In order to assert personal jurisdiction, an individual must be served within the state

We need to look at why Pennoyer was overturned. 1877 – 1945 Changes à

growth of modern corporation
the explosion of interstate commerce

2 instrumentalities in interstate commerce the first is railroads

Pennoyer dealt with physical territorially, the limits which would expand in the future.
Increase in large corporations and interstate commerce; summons within state boundaries no longer plausible.

A corporation is a fictional entity created by state law, which allows the owners certain decision making and reassures them that they have limited liability

International Harv

1/ 64th interest profits on an oil field; Milliken issued suit in a Wyoming court alleging that he had a joint venture with both parties; Meyer, who was a resident of Wyoming, was personally served with process in Colorado in accordance with a Wyoming Statute. Meyers failed to show and the courts entered an in personam judgment against Meyer for the profits he withheld from Milliken.
– Being a resident of a state is alone sufficient to bring an absent defendant within the reach of the state’s jurisdiction for purposes of a personal judgment by means of appropriate substituted service.
– Can’t run away from Jurisdiction, as opposed to Pennoyer where one must be personally served in the state.

International Shoe Co. v. Washington
326 U.S. 310 (1945)
The state of Washington is suing International Shoe Co. in order to collect backed taxes they feel is owed. International Shoe is a Delaware Corporation, having its principle place of business in St. Louis. They have no office in Washington and make no contracts for sale or purchase of merchandise. Some salesmen resided in Washington, and compensated based on commission obtained by sales in Washington. Salesmen were agents for International Shoes; the courts found that the company was conducting continuous corporate operations within the state (neither irregular nor casual, but systematic and continuous) and that they were enjoying the benefits and protection of the laws of Washington.

Two Part test – Minimal Contacts and Traditional notions of Fair Play.
– Shoe measures the depth of the contacts rather than the quantity of said contacts
– International shoe says minimal contacts; not necessarily a “presence”
– After International shoe, the status of International Harvester has now changed
International Harvester was based on a fiction that a corporation could be present in a state; there is no fictional presence, rather agents in a state.