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Uffner v. La Reunion Francaise

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Brief Fact Summary.

Uffner’s yacht sank approximately one mile from the coast of Puerto Rico after an engine fire broke out in the engine room. Uffner filed an insurance claim for the loss of the boat, which the insurer denied. Uffner filed a lawsuit in federal district court claiming damages for bad faith denial of the claim. The defendants moved to dismiss on grounds of failure to state a claim, lack of jurisdiction, and improper venue. The district court granted the dismissal motion, on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction and improper venue. Uffner appealed.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Venue may be proper in any number of districts; the focus is not on a single “triggering event” prompting the action, but to the entire sequence of events underlying the claim.

Points of Law - Legal Principles in this Case for Law Students.

The ability to waive this right thus reflects the principle that the individual can subject himself to powers from which he may otherwise be protected.

View Full Point of Law
Facts.

Uffner’s sailing yacht had insurance coverage issued and underwritten by Defendants. The yacht sank after an engine fire broke out, approximately one mile from the coast of Puerto Rico. Uffner filed an insurance claim for the loss of the boat. The insurance claim was denied. Uffner filed a lawsuit in federal district court claiming damages for bad faith denial of the insurance claim. The defendants moved to dismiss on grounds of failure to state a claim, lack of jurisdiction, and improper venue. The district court granted the dismissal motion, on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction and improper venue. Uffner appealed.

Issue.

Did the district court err in dismissing Uffner’s complaint based on lack of jurisdiction and improper venue?

Held.

Yes, because: (1) the lack of personal jurisdiction defense was waived by Defendants, and (2) Puerto Rico, the place where the loss of the vessel occurred, was “substantial” for venue services.

Discussion.

The lack of personal jurisdiction defense was waived by Defendants because they did not raise the defense. (The district court had raised the personal jurisdiction issue sua sponte). Venue was proper in Puerto Rico; the place where the loss of the vessel occurred was “substantial” for venue purposes.


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