Civil Procedure


Adding more cases daily.


Pennoyer v. Neff

Facts: Defendant Neff was being sued by Mitchell in Oregon for unpaid legal fees. A default judgment was entered against Defendant for his failure to come to court or otherwise resist the lawsuit, despite the fact that he was not personally served with process, nor was a resident of Oregon. Later, in an attempt to collect upon his judgment, Mitchell attached land located in Oregon belonging to Defendant, and had it sold to Plaintiff Pennoyer through a Sheriff’s sale. Shortly after the sheriff’s sale, Defendant discovered what had happened to his land and brought suit against Plaintiff to recover the land. This appeal followed after Defendant lost his suit against Plaintiff.

Court recognizes:

  • Attachment (seizure) of Property within the state
  • Actions taken against property – In rem
  • Service of process within the state (Says that publication in a newspaper in the first case WASN’T enough notice. Due process requires personal service within the state.)

Rule of Law: Proceedings in a court of law to determine the personal rights and obligations of parties over whom the court has not jurisdiction are invalid for want of due process of law

Holding: Court says he was not a resident of Oregon, he was not personally served, and he didn’t consent and waive service. There was no basis for in personam jurisdiction over him.

Analysis: The Supreme Court of the United States is distinguishing between suits in personam and in rem. Thus the court reasoned that constructive service is sufficient to inform parties of action taken against any properties owned by them within the forum state, because property is always in possession of the owner, and seizure of the property will inform the owner of legal action taken against him.

Haddle v. Garrison

Facts: Plaintiff had filed a 42 USC Section: 1985(2) claim against his former employer for allegedly firing him in an attempt to prevent him from testifying in a Federal criminal trial. Defendant Garrison, Plaintiff’s former employer, filed a motion to dismiss under 12(b) (6) on grounds that Plaintiff was entitled to no protection under Section: 1985(2) because he was an at-will employee. The District Court granted the motion, which Plaintiff then appealed.

Issue: (1) Can petitioner state a claim for damages by alleging that a conspiracy proscribed by ss1985(2) induced his employer to terminate his at-will employment? (2) Is it required that the injury suffered be a “constitutionally protected property interest” to state a claim for damages under Section 1985(2)?

Holding: Yes. The Supreme Court reversed the opinion of the 11th Circuit Court, holding that such interference with an at-will employee may give rise to a claim for damages under 42 Section: 1985(2). The fact that employment at will is not property for purposes of the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution does not mean that loss of at will employment does injure a plaintiff in his person or property for purposes of 42 USC Section: 1985(2). Instead, third-party interference with at- will employment relationships states a claim for relief under 42 USC Section: 1985(2).

Rationale: The Supreme Court here disagreed with the 11th Circuit Court’s determination that Plaintiff must have suffered an injury to a constitutionally protected property interest in order to state a claim for damages under Section: 1985(2), finding that nothing in the language of the statute required such a determination. Specifically, the Supreme Court focused on the fact that the statute is not aimed at redressing injuries to property, but intimidation or retaliation against witnesses in Federal court proceedings.

Rule: Third-party interference with at-will employment relationships states a claim for relief under 42 USC Section: 1985(2).

Discussion of Provisional Remedies:

Four factor standard for obtaining injunctive relief: (1) Likely to win; (2) Likely to suffer irreparable harm if injunction is not granted; (3) Balance of equities; (4) Injunction is in public interest.

Sliding Scale: Must have some case for all four factors and if one factor is stronger than another, particularly strong factor can carry or compensate for the weak factor.

  • P= Probability of Winning
  • Hπ = Harm to Plaintiff
  • H∆ = Harm to Defendant

Ashcroft v. Iqbal

Facts: Directly following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2011, the federal government via several agencies including the FBI, arrested thousands of Arab Muslim men on suspicion of involvement in terrorism.  One of the men, Iqbal, was classified as being a person of high interest and was subsequently detained in a Brooklyn detention center where he alleged that he was substantially mistreated in comparison to non-Arab Muslim men at the facility.  Iqbal alleged that his mistreatment included prolonged solitary confinement.  Consequently, Iqbal filed suit against representatives from the FBI, Department of Justice and Bureau of Prisons, arguing that they unconstitutionally discriminated against him.  The defendants, who included former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, argued that they should be protected from suits for actions taken while fulfilling the tasks of their jobs (qualified immunity).

Issue: Did respondent, as plaintiff in the District Court, plead factual matter that, if taken as true, states a claim that petitioners deprived him of his clearly established constitutional rights. Two legal questions were presented: (1) First, are government agents protected from lawsuits by qualified immunity from former prison inmates who were detained in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks? (2) Second, if high-ranking government officials knowingly allow subordinates to commit unconstitutional discrimination on their watch, can they be found liable for such actions?

Holding: The Supreme Court did not answer the first question, and it answered in the negative on the second question.

Majority Opinion Reasoning:  The Court held that the Second Court had the authority to the lower court’s ruling preventing the dismissal of Iqbal’s claim based upon the defendants’ motions.  On the second question, the Court reasoned that Iqbal failed to submit a sufficient claim with facts detailing unlawful discrimination.  Thus, while the Court found that high-ranking officials cannot categorically have suits against them dismissed on the basis of qualified immunity when the matter revolves around unconstitutional discrimination, petitioners claiming such discrimination must still present sufficient facts pertaining to their claim that discrimination has occurred.

Dissenting Opinion:  Associate Justice Souter wrote the dissenting opinion and principally argued that the Court erred by reviewing the issue of discrimination and supervisory knowledge of discrimination as independent variables, when in fact they should be reviewed as part of the same issue.  Furthermore, Souter argued that the issue of liability was incorrectly outlined because the distinction was such that Ashcroft and other co-defendants should have been viewed as the perpetrators of discriminatory policy rather than just administrators who benignly let it happen during their tenure.  Because the former possibility is more damning than the latter, according to Souter, the distinction needed to be made.


Stradford v. Zurich Insurance Co.

Facts: Plaintiff Stradford is a dentist whose office is insured by Defendant Northern [Insurance Co]. Defendant Northern canceled Plaintiff’s insurance policy after Plaintiff failed to pay the premiums. Defendant then reinstated the policy after Plaintiff recommenced payments. Shortly after the policy was reinstated, Plaintiff submitted a claim to Defendant Northern in the amount of $151,154.74 to cover losses resulting from water damage to his office. Defendant Northern paid Plaintiff the requested amount, and Plaintiff subsequently submitted a revised claim for $1,385,456.70. Defendant Northern stated that the damage had occurred during a lapse in the policy, as a result of Plaintiff’s failure to pay the premiums, and therefore was not covered. Plaintiff brought suit against Defendants Northern and affiliated corporate insurers, seeking the remainder of the amount requested in the revised claim ($1,234,301.96). Defendants counterclaimed, seeking return of the $151,154.74, and asserting that Plaintiff attempted to defraud Defendants and obtain money by false pretenses and representations. Defendants did not identify any particular misrepresentation. Plaintiff moves to dismiss the fraud counterclaims for failure to state the claims with sufficient particularity under FRCP 9(b).

Issue:  Must a party identify specific alleged misrepresentations when accusing a party of fraud?

Rule:  Where a party is accused of fraud, FRCP 9(b) requires the time, place, and nature of the alleged misrepresentations to be disclosed to the party accused of fraud.

Holding: Yes. FRCP 9(b) provides that all allegations of fraud shall be stated with particularity, and that allegations of intent may be set forth generally.

Rationale: Defendants’ counterclaims properly allege that Plaintiff had fraudulent intent by pointing out the timing and size of his insurance claim; however, Rule 9(b) requires that the time, place, and nature of the alleged misrepresentations be disclosed to the party accused of fraud. Because Defendants’ counterclaims fail to identify any alleged misrepresentation, it is unclear whether Plaintiff has indeed made any misrepresentations. The primary purpose of Rule 9(b) is to afford a litigant accused of fraud fair notice of the claim and the factual ground upon which it is based. Defendants’ counterclaims fail to provide Plaintiff with any such notice, and therefore must be dismissed under Rule 9(b). Defendants, however, are granted leave to amend their counterclaims to more clearly allege that Plaintiff misrepresented the date of the loss in order to bring that date within the coverage period. Additionally, Defendants are granted permission to move for summary judgment.


Jones v. Bock

Facts: Jones suffered injuries during prison work but the prison staff refused to reassign him to work which would not worsen his injuries. His injuries then worsened and he filed suit. The Court consolidated his case with other prisoner suits and granted certiorari limited to the question of whether exhaustion under the PLRA is a pleading requirement the prisoner must satisfy in his complaint or an affirmative defense the defendant must plead and prove?

Issue:  Is exhaustion under the PLRA is a pleading requirement the prisoner must satisfy in his complaint or an affirmative defense the defendant must plead and prove?

Rules:

  • Rule 8(a)(2) – A pleading that states a claim for relief must contain a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.
  • Rule 8(c)(1) – In responding to a pleading a party must affirmatively state any avoidance or affirmative defense. 

Holding: The failure to exhaust is an affirmative defense under the PLRA and that inmates are not required to specially plead or demonstrate exhaustion in their complaints.

Rationale: Adopting different and more onerous pleading rules to deal with particular categories of cases should be done through established rulemaking procedures, and not on a case-by-case basis by the courts.


Walker v. Norwest Corp.

Facts: James Massey, attorney for Plaintiffs in a dispute over Plaintiff Jimmy Walker’s trust fund, filed a complaint in federal court against Defendants, the trustees. The complaint stated that jurisdiction was based on diversity; however, statements in the complaint itself pleaded facts tending to show a lack of complete diversity. Plaintiffs and some Defendants were South Dakota citizens. The attorney for Defendants informed Massey that there was no diversity jurisdiction and asked Massey to dismiss the complaint. Massey failed to dismiss or explain his defective complaint. Defendants then moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of jurisdiction under FRCP 12(b)(1), and for an award of sanctions under FRCP 11. The district court granted both motions, awarding Defendants $4,800 in fees and expenses pursuant to Rule 11. Plaintiffs and Massey appeal.

Issue:  Is an award of monetary sanctions pursuant to FRCP 11 proper where an attorney has filed a defective complaint without subsequently amending or dismissing the complaint?

Holding: Yes. Plaintiffs had the burden of pleading the citizenship of the parties in attempting to invoke diversity jurisdiction. The district court’s entry of Rule 11 sanctions is affirmed.

Rationale: Instead of alleging that no Defendant was domiciled in South Dakota, Plaintiffs argue that making an effort to ascertain Defendants’ citizenship would be overly burdensome. This is a burden that a plaintiff attempting to invoke diversity jurisdiction must assume. Therefore, FRCP 11 sanctions were appropriate. Plaintiffs and Massey argue that an investigation into Massey’s difficult financial circumstances would have revealed that he was unable to pay the sanctions; however, Massey did not argue this point to the district court, and there is no evidence to support the argument. There was therefore no abuse of discretion in awarding monetary sanctions. Plaintiffs and Massey also contend that the court should have granted their request to dismiss all defendants that were not diverse in order to create diversity jurisdiction. Massey, however, failed to allege citizenship for many of the defendants, or identify which defendants should be dismissed. The court is not obliged to do Massey’s research for him.

Rule:  A district court necessarily abuses its discretion if it bases its ruling on an erroneous view of the law.


Christian v. Mattell, Inc.

Procedural History: District Court granted summary judgment and Rule 11 sanctions. Ordered James Hicks to pay Mattell $501,565. James Hicks appeals.

Facts:  USC student creates cheerleader doll ©2006 and her lawyer refuses to amend copyright infringement pleadings which Mattel requests on the grounds that the Cool Blue Barbie was copyrighted in 2001 and couldn’t have infringed as a matter of law. Hicks then behaves poorly and gets hit with $501,565 in rule 11 sanctions.

Issue:  Does FRCP 11 permit a court to sanction an attorney for misconduct such as misstatements and discovery abuses made during an oral presentation?

Rule:  Rule 11 permits the court to sanction an attorney only for conduct regarding pleadings, written motions, and other papers that have been signed and filed in a given case.

Holding:  No. The Circuit Court vacated the District Court’s Rule 11 orders.

Reasoning:  Rule 11 sactions are limited to “papers” signed in violation of the rule.  Conduct in depositions, discovery meetings of counsel, oral representations at hearings, and behavior in prior proceedings do not fall within the ambit of Rule 11.  Because the court does not know for certain whether the district court granted Mattel’s Rule 11 motion as a result of an impermissible intertwining of its conclusion about the complaint’s frivolity and Hicks’ extrinsic misconduct, we must vacate the district court’s Rule 11 orders.


Zielinski v. Philadelphia Piers, Inc.

Facts:  Zielinski (P) was operating a forklift for J. A. McCarthy, Inc. when he was injured by Sandy Johnson. Zielinski sued Philadelphia Piers, Inc. (D) and alleged his injuries were caused by Sandy Johnson’s negligent operation of a forklift owned by Philadelphia Piers. Zielinski alleged that Johnson was an employee and agent of Philadelphia Piers at the time of the accident.

Sandy Johnson had worked for Philadelphia Piers for 15 years and was not aware that the company had transferred ownership of the operation and that he had in fact been working for Carload Contractors, Inc. Johnson mistakenly testified that he had been working for Philadelphia Piers. Philadelphia Piers had made a general denial of the allegations in the complaint but did not clarify that it had transferred the operation to Carload Contractors.

Carload, Philadelphia Piers, and the insurance company that provided insurance to both companies were aware of Zielinski’s error. Zielinski did not discover that he had sued the wrong company until the pretrial conference. Zielinski moved to estop Philadelphia Piers from denying the facts alleged in the complaint because the company had allowed him to believe that they were true.

Issue:  May a defendant be estopped from denying alleged facts in a complaint if he has made an ineffective denial of those facts and knowingly allows a plaintiff to continue to rely on them?

Rule: A defendant who knowingly makes inaccurate statements may be estopped from denying those statements at trial.

Holding: A general denial is ineffective if some of the claims denied are true and not at issue. The court held that Philadelphia Piers should have made a specific denial of the parts of the complaint it knew to be false and admitted the parts which were true. A specific denial would have warned Zielinski of his mistake. Under Pennsylvania law, when an improper and ineffective answer has been filed and the time allowed to amend the answer has passed, a party will be estopped from denying the allegation and any improper allegations will be deemed as true. Philadelphia Piers did not have a right to knowingly foster a mistake by its acts of omission. The court held that Philadelphia Piers was estopped from denying the agency of Sandy Johnson and the company’s ownership of the forklift. The court reasoned that if Zielinski’s complaint were dismissed he would be deprived of his day in court.

Disposition:  For Zielinski; motion for a statement to the jury of the agency relationship granted.

Notes:  A general denial may be made only when the defendant intends in good faith to deny all of the plaintiff’s allegations. A denial of only part of the allegations requires a specific denial of the parts that are denied, and an indication of which parts are true.  Under FRCP 11 there is a requirement of good faith in pleading. Under FRCP 8(b), a denial must fairly meet the substance of the averments denied. A party can admit, deny, or plead insufficient information to answer different parts of a complaint. 


Beeck v. Aquaslide N’ Dive Corp.

Facts:  Beeck is injured on a slide that is purportedly manufactured by Aqua. During discovery, two weeks before the statute of limitations runs, the president of Aqua determines that the slide was not, in fact, manufactured by Aqua and moves to amend it’s answer to Beeck’s allegation.

Issue: Was it an abuse of the trial court’s discretion to further grant the manufacturer’s motion for a separate trial on the issue of manufacture?

Holding: No, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in allowing the defendant to amend it’s answer and proceed with a separate trial to determine if Aqua Manufactured the slide.

Rationale: The burden is on the party opposing the amendment to show such prejudice. In ruling on a motion for leave to amend, the trial court must inquire into the issue of prejudice to the opposing party, in light of the particular facts of the case.

Defendant originally relied on identification of the slide by three insurance companies and defendant did not influence erroneous conclusion. Thus, defendant has not acted in such bad faith as to be precluded from contesting the issue of manufacture at trial.

Amendment allows defendant to contest a disputed factual issue at trial and that it would be prejudicial to prevent the defendant from doing so.

Regarding the separate trial, judicial economy was served by the separate trial.


Moore v. Baker

Facts: Moore’s surgery goes wrong and she sues that doctor for failure to obtain informed consent because she alleges that he did not advise her of alternative therapy. She then tries to amend the claim to negligence

Issue: Did the district court abuse it’s discretion by denying Moore’s motion to amend her complaint on the ground that the newly asserted claim was barred by the applicable statute of limitations?

Rule: Amendment must relate back to the date of the original complaint. An amendment relates back to the original filing when the amendment asserts a claim or defense that arose out of the conduct, transaction, or occurrence set out – or attempted to be set out – in the original pleading.

Holding: No, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Moore’s motion to amend her complaint because the new amendment did not relate back to the original complaint and, therefore, would not have withstood a motion to dismiss.

Rationale: Negligence claim was based on entirely different facts and allegations than the “Informed Consent” complaint dealt with.


Bonerb v. Richard J. Caron Foundation

Facts: Bonerb slipped on the basketball court maintained by the RJC Foundation while in rehab. Bonerb sued RJC for negligence and then, after obtaining new council, moved to amend his complaint to add a new cause of action for counseling malpractice.

Issue: Does the new cause of action sufficiently relate back to the original complaint?

Rule: Amendment must relate back to the date of the original complaint. An amendment relates back to the original filing when the amendment asserts a claim or defense that arose out of the conduct, transaction, or occurrence set out – or attempted to be set out – in the original pleading.

Holding: Yes, the allegations involved in the original and amended complaints derive from the same nucleus of facts involving injury suffered by plaintiff on November 29, 1991.

Rationale: The allegations gave the defendant sufficient notice of the general facts and alerted the defendant to the possibility of a claim based on negligent performance of professional duties.


 Silvestri v. General Motors Corp.

Procedural History:  Appeal of dismissal for spoliation of evidence.

Facts:  Mark Silvestri (P) sued General Motors Corp. (D) after the airbag in the Monte Carlo he was driving failed to deploy when he hit a utility pole, causing him injuries. While he was in the hospital, his parents retained an attorney, who retained two accident reconstructionists to examine the vehicle. They concluded that the airbag was defective, and told Silvestri’s (P) attorney that he should let General Motors (D) see the vehicle. Neither Silvestri (P) nor his lawyer took steps to preserve the vehicle or to notify General Motors of the existence of the vehicle, until almost three years later when Silvestri (P) began this action. The district court dismissed the case for the spoliation of evidence.

Issue:  Does a party’s duty to preserve material evidence extend to the period before litigation, when a party reasonably should know that the evidence may be relevant to anticipated litigation, and therefore the object of discovery?

Rule:  A party’s duty to preserve material evidence extends to the period before litigation, when a party reasonably should know that the evidence may be relevant to anticipated litigation, and therefore the object of discovery.

Holding:  (Niemeyer, J.) Yes. A party’s duty to preserve material evidence extends to the period before litigation, when a party reasonably should know that the evidence may be relevant to anticipated litigation, and therefore the object of discovery. Silvestri (P) had access to the vehicle, and the vehicle was preserved in its post-accident condition for two to three months, or more, during which time Silvestri (P) or his lawyer and his experts recognized not only that they would be suing General Motors (D) but also that General Motors (D) should be given the opportunity to inspect the vehicle. Silvestri (P) therefore breached his duty not to spoliate evidence. And while dismissal is severe and constitutes the ultimate sanction for spoliation, it is necessary here because the prejudice to General Motors (D) is extraordinary, denying it the ability to adequately defend its case. Affirmed.

Analysis:  Note that it was the particular facts of the case that supported the “ultimate sanction” for spoliation in this case. The court determined that General Motors could not adequately defend its case without being given the opportunity to examine the car.


Hickman v. Taylor

Facts: Tugboat crash. Plaintiff’s attorney requests “exact copies of all such statements if in writing and if oral, set forth in detail the exact provisions of any such oral statements or reports.” Opposing council refuses to comply and is held to be in contempt of court. He appeals.

Issue:  Does discovery require that “privileged matter obtained in preparation for litigation” be provided to opposing counsel?

Rule:  An attempt, without purported necessity or justification, to secure written statements, private memoranda and personal recollections prepared or formed by an adverse party’s counsel in the course of his legal duties falls outside the arena of discovery.

Holding: No.

Rationale:  Such an attempt contravenes the public policy underlying the orderly prosecution and defense of legal claims.

Purpose of Discovery:

  1. A device, along with the pre-trial hearing under rule 16, to narrow and clarify the basic issues between the parties, and
  2. as a device for ascertaining the facts, or information as to the existence or whereabouts of facts, relative to those issues. 

Thompson v. The Haskell Co.

Rule 26(b)(4)(D): Ordinarily, a party may not, by interrogatories or deposition, discover facts known or opinions held by an expert who has been retained or specially employed by another party in anticipation of litigation or to prepare for trial and who is not expected to be called as a witness at trial. But a party may do so only:

  • As provided in Rule 35(b); or
  • On showing exceptional circumstances under which it is impracticable for the party to obtain facts or opinions on the same subject by other means.

Holding: Diagonostic psych review is discoverable

Rationale: The psych report is discoverable because it is:

  • 1) highly probative
  • 2) Essential to the defendant’s case
  • 3) The defendant could not obtain the information in the report by any other means.

Chiquita International Ltd. v. MV Bolero Reefer (International Reefer)

Holding:  Reefer cannot obtain the deposition.

Rationale: Mr. Winer is a fact expert, not a testifying expert nor witness, because he was HIRED in order to inspect the ship. Rule 26(b)(4)(D) prevents discovery of his deposition. Reefer could have sent its own surveyor to inspect the ship but it did not and, because of this, It cannot argue “exceptional circumstances.”


Stalnaker v. Kmart Corp.

Facts: Plaintiff alleges sexual harassment by employee of defendant and wants to depose 5 woman who the plaintiff believes may have been sexually harassed or active with the employee of the defendant. Defendant seeks to prevent deposition of these women using rule 26 as it’s basis.

Rule 26(c)(1): The court may, for good cause, issue an order to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense.”

Court says: The rule does not apply unless the person against whom the evidence is offered can reasonably be characterized as a victim of alleged sexual assault. In this case, the employee of the defendant is the man against whom these depositions will be used as evidence and he is not the victim of the alleged sexual harassment. As such, the depositions cannot be prevented by the defendant. However, the questions must be limited to the sexual harassment issue at hand and the answers cannot be disseminated beyond this case.

Psych and Medical Exams: Plaintiff who puts his/her mental or medical condition at issue in a case can be made to submit to an exam. However, the law is much less permissive about allowing physical or mental exams where a party has not clearly put her own physical or mental condition in issue.

Pennoyer v. Neff

Facts: Defendant Neff was being sued by Mitchell in Oregon for unpaid legal fees. A default judgment was entered against Defendant for his failure to come to court or otherwise resist the lawsuit, despite the fact that he was not personally served with process, nor was a resident of Oregon. Later, in an attempt to collect upon his judgment, Mitchell attached land located in Oregon belonging to Defendant, and had it sold to Plaintiff Pennoyer through a Sheriff’s sale. Shortly after the sheriff’s sale, Defendant discovered what had happened to his land and brought suit against Plaintiff to recover the land. This appeal followed after Defendant lost his suit against Plaintiff.

Court recognizes:

  • Attachment (seizure) of Property within the state
  • Actions taken against property – In rem
  • Service of process within the state (Says that publication in a newspaper in the first case WASN’T enough notice. Due process requires personal service within the state.)

Rule: Proceedings in a court of law to determine the personal rights and obligations of parties over whom the court has not jurisdiction are invalid for want of due process of law

Holding: Court says he was not a resident of Oregon, he was not personally served, and he didn’t consent and waive service. There was no basis for in personam jurisdiction over him.

Analysis: The Supreme Court of the United States is distinguishing between suits in personam and in rem. Thus the court reasoned that constructive service is sufficient to inform parties of action taken against any properties owned by them within the forum state, because property is always in possession of the owner, and seizure of the property will inform the owner of legal action taken against him.

International Shoe

Facts: Defendant was an out of state company that employed salesmen within the state of Washington. Washington sued Defendant to recover unpaid unemployment taxes and served Defendant in two ways: (1) by mail and (2) by serving one of its salesmen within the state. Defendant appealed from a verdict for Washington, claiming that Washington had no personal jurisdiction over Defendant.

Issue: Is service of process upon Defendant’s agent sufficient notice when the corporation’s activities result in a large volume of interstate business so that the corporation receives the protection of the laws of the state and the suit is related to the activities which make the corporation present?

Rule: In order for a state to exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant, the defendant must have such minimum contacts with the state so that exercising jurisdiction over the defendant would not offend “traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.”

Held: Yes. Affirmed. The general rule is that in order to have jurisdiction with someone outside the state, the person must have certain minimum contacts with it such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend “traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice. For a corporation, the “minimum contacts” required are not just continuous and systematic activities but also those that give rise to the liabilities sued on. Defendant could have sued someone in Washington. It was afforded the protection of the laws of that state, and therefore it should be subject to suit.

Shaffer v. Heitner

Facts: Plaintiff stockholder brought a shareholder’s derivative action in Delaware state court against Defendants, corporations incorporated in Delaware with their principal place of business in Arizona, and corporate officers of the corporations (Defendants). Plaintiff moved to sequester Defendants’ property, which was stock in the company, located in Delaware as defined by the Delaware statute. Defendants moved to quash the summons and to vacate the sequestration order, arguing that both exercising personal jurisdiction and seizing Defendants’ property violated due process. 


Rule: When the only contact the defendant has with the forum state is the location of property as defined by statute in the forum state, the forum lacks personal jurisdiction over the defendant unless the minimum contacts test of International Shoe is satisfied.

Issue: In order for the forum state to exercise in rem jurisdiction on a nonresident, must the nonresident have minimum contacts with the forum state such that the defendant has purposefully availed itself of the benefits of that state’s laws? If so, must the cause of action be sufficiently related to the contacts the nonresident has with the forum state? Man owns ONE share of Greyhound, so he sues the directors and officers of the corporation. He sues them in a quasi-in rem proceeding. You want to sue them all in one action; you need to sue them all in Delaware.

Pavlovich v. Superior Court

Facts: The defendant posted confidential trade information about the one of the plaintiff’s DVD products on his internet website.

Rule: A plaintiff asserting a claim based on specific jurisdiction against a non-resident defendant performing no business in the state must point to contacts that demonstrate that the defendant expressly aimed its tortious conduct at the forum state.

Issue: Whether a state court may exercise jurisdiction over a non-resident whose only connection to the state is an internet posting on the World Wide Web.

Held: No. The California Supreme Court ruled that jurisdiction was improper. Courts have identified two ways to establish personal jurisdiction general or specific. When determining whether specific jurisdiction exists, courts consider the relationship among the defendant, the forum, and the litigation. Merely asserting that a defendant knew or should have known that his intentional acts would cause harm in the forum state is not enough to establish jurisdiction. Instead, the plaintiff must also point to contacts that demonstrate that the defendant expressly aimed its tortious conduct at the forum.

Discussion: The court only looked to specific jurisdiction because DVD Copy failed to allege any general jurisdiction. In deciding specific jurisdiction lacking, the court relied on its holding that specific jurisdiction requires more than a finding that the harm caused by the defendant’s intentional tort is primarily felt within the forum. Thus, by requiring evidence that the defendant expressly aimed its tortuous conduct at the forum, the court is implicitly holding that jurisdiction over a defendant must be both reasonable and foreseeable so that it does not violate substantial notions of justice and fair play.

NiCastro

Facts: The case in New Jersey state court was between an injured worker and the foreign company which manufactured the machinery that injured him. The company disputed the state’s right to exercise its jurisdiction over the case.

Facts. A worker named Robert Nicastro (P) was working with a metal-shearing machine manufactured by J. McIntyre Machinery, Ltd. (D) when he injured his hand. The manufacturer is incorporated in England, and operates from there. The machine was also manufactured in England. The injury occurred in New Jersey. Nicastro (P) sued the company in New Jersey. J. McIntyre Machinery, Ltd. (D) was held by the New Jersey Supreme Court to be under its jurisdiction for the following reasons: its machines were sold in New Jersey, its representatives were present in their official capacity at a scrap recycling convention held for advertising purposes in New Jersey, four of the company’s machines were in New Jersey, and the company  was responsible for guiding the local dealer’s sales and advertising efforts.

Rule: The general principle in products liability cases is that the power of a court is not lawful unless the defendant willfully chooses to conduct its activities in the concerned state, in order to make use of the benefits and protection provided by the state. This rule is not rendered void by the stream-of-course doctrine.

Issue. Can the stream-of-commerce principle in products liability cases be held to be more important than the rule that the power exercised by a court is not lawful unless the defendant has willingly chosen to make use of the benefits and protection provided by the concerned state, by locating its activities in that state?

Held. (Kennedy J.) No. the stream-of-commerce rule in products liability cases does not mean that the rule regarding the exercise of judicial power to be unlawful unless the defendant has chosen on purpose to base his activities in the forum state, in order to avail of the state’s benefits and protection, is to be ignored. The New Jersey Supreme Court held that the manufacturer was under the jurisdiction of the state, since they knew or should have known under existing circumstances that the possibility existed of its products being sold in New Jersey, since the products were distributed through a system extending throughout the country.

Dissent. (Ginsberg J.) The principle of personal jurisdiction has been established in the International Shoe Co.v.Washington, 326 U.S. 310 (1945). The petitioner J.McIntyre (D) took steps to fulfill its aim of building a market for its products in the U.S. market, without regard to the place of domicile or operation of the purchasers. Thus it is subject to the above principle.

Concurrence. (Breyer, J.) The judgment is a correct one and based on precedent rather than a new general rule to limit jurisdiction. So far no precedent exists to show that a single isolated sale, even if other sales do exist, is enough to prove purposeful conduct aimed at submitting the manufacturer to state laws. There is a failure on the part of Nicastro (P) to provide

Discussion. In this case three judges voted to reverse the earlier decision on the basis of a new and stricter rule limiting jurisdiction, three others voted on the basis of precedent and three others voted to reverse the earlier decision on the basis of precedent with a new rule as well. It is therefore difficult to identify a reliable rule.

Carnival v. Shute

Facts: Plaintiff Carnival Cruise Lines, Inc. opposes a suit by a passenger injured on one of their cruise ships, because the cruise tickets contained an agreement that all matters relating to the cruise would be litigated before a Florida court.

Rule: Forum-selection clauses forcing individuals to agree to submit to jurisdiction in a particular place are enforceable so long as they pass the test for judicial fairness.

Facts: Defendant Shute purchased passage for a seven day cruise on the Tropicale, a ship owned by Plaintiff, through a Washington travel agent. The face of each ticket contained terms and conditions of passage, which included an agreement that all matters disputed or litigated subject to the travel agreement, would be before a Florida court. Defendant boarded the ship in California, which then sailed to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico before returning to Los Angeles. While the ship was in international waters, Defendant Eulala Shute was injured from slipping on a deck mat. Defendants filed suit in Federal District Court in Washington. Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, alleging that the clause in the tickets required Defendants to bring their suit in Florida.

Issue: Whether the court should enforce a forum-selection clause forcing individuals to submit to jurisdiction in a particular state.

Held: Yes. The Supreme Court of the United States held that the Court of Appeals erred in refusing to enforce the forum-selection clause.Forum-selection clauses contained in form passage contracts are subject to judicial scrutiny for fundamental fairness, but where they are not lacking in fairness, they will be enforced.

Dissent:Justice Stevens dissented, in which he was joined by Justice Marshall. Essentially Justice Stevens feels that adhesion contracts, particularly forum-selection clauses, are void as contrary to public policy if they were not freely bargained for, create additional expense for one party, or deny one party a remedy.

Discussion: In reaching its decision, the court noted that there is no evidence that Plaintiff set Florida as the forum as a means of discouraging cruise passengers from pursuing their claims. Such a suggestion is negated by the fact that Plaintiff has its headquarters in Florida, and many of its cruises depart from Florida.

Mullane v. Central Hanover Bank & Trust

Facts: This case is over 113 trusts. They post notice of lawsuit in the newspaper says that if you want to have input, you must show up else you waive your rights to adjudicate. Mr. Mullane is the attorney for the absent beneficiary. Vaughn represents principle beneficiaries. What kind of notice is required?

Rule: You must send notice in the mail if you have an address for the party. But it has to be reasonably calculated to reach the interested parties. Must take measures that make it reasonably calculated to provide adequate notice.

At minimum, put something in the mail if you have an address. If you don’t have the address, you can Facebook them if that is reasonably calculated. You can publish it, too.

Discussion: The majority’s opinion illustrates that notice by publication will not suffice only because it would be burdensome for the plaintiff to notify all parties involved. If the plaintiff knows of a way to contact the parties, then the plaintiff must bear that expense. Mailing notice to an address, if known, will suffice. Notice by publication will suffice only if there is no practical way of knowing the identity or location of the party.

Note: The court obliterated the distinction between “constructive” notice that sufficed fr in rem cases and personal service required for in personam cases. Instead, it said that all cases required a form of notice that was sensible under the circumstances and reasonably likely to actually inform the defendant of the lawsuit.

Gibbons v. Brown

Facts: Defendant Mrs. Brown was injured in an auto accident in a car driven by her husband, due to faulty directions given by the other passenger, Plaintiff Gibbons. Following Plaintiff’s Florida lawsuit against Mr. Brown, Defendant filed suit in Florida against Plaintiff to recover for her own injuries. Plaintiff filed a motion to dismiss, claiming that the provisions of Mrs. Brown’s complaint were inadequate to satisfy the Florida long-arm statute.

Issue. Whether by previously availing oneself of a jurisdiction as a Plaintiff automatically renders one subject to defending later suits in the same jurisdiction.

Rule: Merely bringing a suit in a particular jurisdiction does not act indefinitely to expose that party to defending a future suit in the same jurisdiction.

Holding: No. The trial court was directed to dismiss Defendant’s complaint. The fact that a current Defendant previously brought a suit in the forum state does not constitute sufficient activities, without more, to subject the current defendant to personal jurisdiction in the state.

Discussion: The parties agreed that as a general rule in Florida, a Plaintiff, by bringing an action, subjects herself to the jurisdiction of the court and to subsequent lawful orders entered regarding the same subject matter of that action.

However, the Court refused to hold that by filing a lawsuit in 1995, Plaintiff should have to automatically consent to Florida jurisdiction when she was named as a defendant in a related lawsuit two full years later.

Dee-K Enterprises v. Heveafil Sdn. Bhd.

Facts: Plaintiffs Dee-K and Asheboro, Virginia and North Carolina corporations, bought rubber thread from defendants to make bungee cords and other things.  Plaintiffs sued a number of corporations in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand producing the rubber thread alleging a broad conspiracy among defendants to fix prices and restrain competition in rubber thread.  Defendants challenged jurisdiction and venue.

Issues: (1) Wheter there is personal jurisdiction over an Indonesian manufacturer-defendant that consummates its sales of thread in Indonesia; (2) whether venue is proper in the Eastern District of Virginia.

Holding: It is unclear whether venue is proper in the Eastern District of Virginia.  Plaintiffs must show that venue in this district was proper, or the action may be transferred to the Western District of Virginia where venue is proper because Virginia contacts are located in the Western District of Virginia.

Discussion: Plaintiffs have alleged that some Virginia related contacts of defendants that Defendant sold its rubber thread to are located in the Western District of Virginia, not the Eastern District, thus making venue in the Eastern District improper but in the Western District of Virginia proper.  However, since not all defendants objected there may be contacts in the Eastern District, which would make venue proper if at least one of the American distributors were “found” there.

Piper Aircraft Co. v. Reyno

Facts: Plaintiffs sued Defendants, in state court arising from injuries sustained in a plane crash in Scotland. The cases were removed to federal court and transferred to the District Court of Pennsylvania. Defendants moved to dismiss under the doctrine of forum non conveniens, arguing that the better forum was located in Scotland.



Issue: Should a case be dismissed on the grounds of forum non conveniens when all the witnesses and evidence are in another country, the other country’s jurors would be more connected to the problem, it is inconvenient to the parties to try the case in the jurisdiction where it was brought, and the other country’s law will be applied?

Rule: The doctrine of forum non conveniens allows a court to dismiss a case that was brought in the wrong forum. When all or most of the significant events, witnesses and evidence are centered in one location, then a court must dismiss a case brought in another location under the doctrine of forum non conveniens unless the alternate forum provides the plaintiff with absolutely no remedy. Whether the law of the forum chosen by the plaintiff is more favorable to the plaintiff should not be given weight.

Holding: Yes. Reversed.
The possibility of a change of law should not be given substantial weight in a forum non conveniens analysis.

Discussion: Choosing a particular forum because the law is more favorable to the plaintiff cannot be given any substantial weight under a forum non conveniens analysis. Although the general rule is that a court should not dismiss a case on grounds of forum non conveniens unless there is an alternate forum in which the plaintiff can pursue a remedy, this rule only requires that the plaintiff be able to file a proper lawsuit in that alternate forum.