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Law Outlines > Civil Procedure Outlines

Personal Jurisdiction Outline

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This is an extract of our Personal Jurisdiction document, which we sell as part of our Civil Procedure Outlines collection written by the top tier of NYU School Of Law students.

The following is a more accessble plain text extract of the PDF sample above, taken from our Civil Procedure Outlines. Due to the challenges of extracting text from PDFs, it will have odd formatting:


Jurisdiction—judgments void without proper jurisdiction

Any time an action brought, defendant wants to think, can I challenge any of these four?:

Personal Jurisdiction; Subject Matter Jurisdiction; Venue; Forum Non Conveniens

  1. Background

    1. Any judgment made without proper jurisdiction is void, and not subject to full faith and credit

    2. Policy Reasons for Jurisdiction

      1. Unfair for defendant to be haled into a court where he cannot reasonably expect to be sued

      2. Judges/jurors in courts other than those of defendant’s home state may have bias

      3. Inconvenience of traveling to another forum to defend oneself

  2. Personal Jurisdiction

Some states have statutes limiting jurisdictional reach of their courts; others have “long-arm statutes” allowing their courts’ jurisdiction to reach as far as the Constitution allows. Federal courts have personal jurisdiction over a person who is subject to the jurisdiction of a court of general jurisdiction in the state where the district court is located.

  1. General Personal Jurisdiction-defendant subject to jurisdiction even arising out of non-forum related activities as long as contacts with forum state are systematic and continuous. Appropriate where the entity is so imbued with the character of a particular forum that it is considered the equivalent of a domiciliary. Classic example is GM in Michigan.

  2. Specific Personal Jurisdiction—suit must arise out of the transactions that generate jurisdiction

  3. Types of Personal Jurisdiction

    1. In rem— jurisdiction over a thing or property physically in the state, when the suit is about that property. Judgment restricted to value of property

    2. Quasi in rem—jurisdiction over property that is not related to the action. X might sue Y, with jurisdiction quasi in rem as a way of securing assets to pay for an award of the suit. Judgment restricted to value of property.

    3. In Personam-- jurisdiction over the person or corporation who has at least minimum contacts in the state. Unrestricted judgment amount.

Due Process quotes:

  1. Sovereignty of each state to try causes in their courts plies a limitation on the sovereignty of all its sister states.—WWV

  2. Due process gives predictability to the legal system by allowing potential Ds to structure their primary conduct with some minimum assurances as to where that conduct will and will not render them liable to suit.

  3. Issacharoff: ability to enforce a judicial decree turns ultimately on authority that judges can coerce parties to abide by their judgments; issues of representation, judicial authority over subjects


  1. Pennoyer v Neff-

Pennoyer has to forfeit the land. Shows that a judgment is void if made without jurisdiction.

Neff is no longer domiciled in Oregon, he has moved to California. So due process is violated if he can be sued in a state in which he’s not domiciled. Pennoyer failed to attach Neff’s Oregon property to the suit before proceeding, therefore, no in rem jurisdiction either.

  1. Bryant v Finnair—broadened after Pennoyer

Finnair was sued in NY for an injury that occurred on a tarmac in Paris. Finnair just had a small promotional office in NY, but that was enough to subject it to general jurisdiction in NY.

  1. International Shoe v Washington

“Fair Play and Substantial Justice”; “Minimum Contacts,”

“Systematic and Continuous Contacts”—

  • Expands jurisdiction beyond Pennoyer/Neff situations. International Shoe is subject to jurisdiction for suits that arise out of those contacts.

  • Delaware corp with principal place of business in Mo. No offices or sales in Washington, but had salesmen in Washington to exhibit samples, based on commission. Argues can’t be sued in Washington for failure to contribute to employee compensation fund.

  • State has right to general jurisdiction over out-of-state defendant if his contacts are “systematic and continuous” in that state.

  • Rationale: If a corporation exercises the privilege of conducting activities within a state, it enjoys the benefits and protections of the laws of that state, which gives rise to obligation, which a state will enforce if the obligations are connected with the business activities in the state.

  • Establishes two-part test for in personam jurisdiction over a corporation not present in the state: first, are there minimum contacts with the state and does the suit arise from those contacts. Second, does jurisdiction comport with traditional conception of fair play and substantial justice? (At least specific jurisdiction if it meets these).

  • Also allows for general jurisdiction over out-of-state corp if operations are “so substantial” to justify suit against it on anything.

  • Minimum Contacts: Are there sufficient contacts between the defendant and the forum state that make jurisdiction reasonable or fair, that defendant should reasonably anticipate being haled into court in the forum state

  • Fair Play + Substantial Justice: Assuming min contacts met, think about 4 other factors for determining fairness.

    1. Hanson v Denckla—purposeful availment

      • If a corporation “purposefully avails itself of the privilege of conducting activities within the forum state,” it has notice that it is subject to suit there and can protect against it.

      • If one purposefully avails himself, then it has clear notice that it is subject to suit there, and he can act to alleviate the risk of burdensome litigation by procuring insurance, passing costs on to consumers, or severing connection with state if risks are too great.

    2. World-Wide Volkswagen v Woodson

Steps back a bit. The mere unilateral activity of those who claims some relationship with a non-resident defendant cannot satisfy the requirement of contact with the forum state.

It was foreseeable that customer would drive from NY to Oklahoma, but not foreseeable to the dealer that he would be haled into court in Oklahoma for sale of car in NY.

WW also discusses stream of commerce.

Outlines some steps it sees as required for personal jurisdiction: no activity in Oklahoma, no sales or services, do not avail themselves of privileges and benefits of Okla law, solicits no business there.

--jurisdiction only good if the D delivers its products into the stream of commerce with the expectation that they will be purchased by consumers in the forum state

To get at fair play and substantial justice, outlines 5 considerations:

  1. Burden on defendant in defending suit there

  2. The forum state’s interest in adjudicating the dispute

  3. Plaintiff’s interest in obtaining convenient and effective relief

  4. Shared interests of states in furthering fundamental substantive social policies (e.g. In Kulko, ex-wife who moved w/ kids to California couldn’t sue the husband who stayed in NY in Cali court. His acquiescence to the child moving to CA to live w/ her mother is not purposeful availment. Burnham is different b/c there’s personal service in Burnham.)

  5. Interstate judicial interest in achieving the most efficient resolution of controversies.

Marshall dissent: a defect could occur in another state in the normal course of driving a car; this should not come as a surprise at all to a car dealer.

Policy: Offers predictability, allows potential defendants to structure their primary contact with some minimum assurance as to where that conduct will and will not render them liable to suit. Also, a social interest in that if the defendant is too burdened by out-of-state defense, society won’t get the accurate result it seeks.

  1. Keeton v Hustler

Regular sales of magazines in a state is sufficient to give rise to jurisdiction. Regular sales of magazines cannot be characterized as random, isolated, or fortuitous.

  1. Asahi Metal Industry v Superior Court of California

    • 8 justices agree that minimum contacts was met, but didn’t meet “fair play and substantial justice.” Four-part balancing test here says major burden on defendant, little interest for California since at this point its just two foreign companies fighting over indemnification; shared foreign policy interest best served by careful inquiry into reasonableness of assertion of jurisdiction.

    • O’Connor 4-justice Plurality (not holding, but persuasive to other courts):

The ‘substantial connection’ b/w the defendant and the forum state must come about by an action of the defendant purposefully directed toward the forum state. The placement of a product into the stream of commerce, without more, is not an act of the defendant purposefully directed toward the forum state.” Mere awareness that stream of commerce may sweep goods into a state is not enough.

  • Brennan dissent: Things defendant has purposefully engaged, but would just defeat this case for fair play and subst justice. Disagrees on stream of commerce analysis. If the defendant is aware of where the final product is being marketed, lawsuit should be no surprise, and due process not violated. This defendant also receives benefit from final sales in the forum state. Brennan sees. O’Connor plurality’s approach will allow negligent defendants to walk away from liability.

  1. Shaffer v Heitner

    • Shaffer sues owners Greyhound stock in Delaware for incident arising in Oregon--Delaware is the situs of shares owned in Delaware corporations.

    • Applies International Shoe standards of minimum contacts and fair play/substantial justice to quasi-in-rem as well as in personam. Question is if the property owner is not otherwise subject to the jurisdiction of the court, aside from owning property in that state, can the court attach property of the nonresident defendant? Pennoyer says yes, but is Pennoyer still good law in light of International Shoe? Since Shaffer requires same minimum contacts for in rem as in personam, there’s basically no reason to bring in rem anymore, since if you have in rem, you have in personam too.

    • Property not sufficient basis for jurisdiction if totally unrelated to the suit. In some peculiar circumstances, you would still use attachment jurisdiction where required by statute to attach some property (e.g., bank account), even though defendant would also have some personal contacts with the state.

On test, you could argue that Shaffer did not go as far as to eliminate quasi in rem b/c the facts were so peculiar, although most courts do tend to interpret Shaffer pretty broadly.

  1. Tag Jurisdiction: Burhnam

Tag jurisdiction is OK. Question was whether due process denies jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant who is sued in forum state while temporarily there for purposes unrelated to subject of suit. Burnham (of...

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