The following questions were asked on Civil Procedure Examinations given at Harvard Law School; we have slightly edited some of them. The sample answers are intended to show one possible approach to each question. Page references are to the main text of the outline.
QUESTION 1: Muenster Airways, Inc., is a small airline flying regularly scheduled flights between points in New Jersey, New York, and New England. It is incorporated in New Jersey and has its principal place of business there. Amos Stilton, a passenger on the ill-fated flight described below, is a citizen of Ames, a small midwestern state located between Indiana and Illinois.
In December 2007, Muenster conducted an advertising campaign in Ames and other midwestern states offering a special flying tour of New England in the spring of 2008, featuring stopovers in Tiverton, R.I., Worcester, Mass., and White River Junction, Vermont. Stilton, attracted by the advertisement, bought a round-trip ticket from an independent travel agent in Ames and was put into a group of Ames travelers who would be leaving on the tour on April 1 from Ames City. The agent, after selling the ticket, immediately listed Stilton (care of his Ames address), on Muenster’s reservation system as a passenger for the upcoming trip. Transportation to Newark, N.J., the starting point of the tour, was provided to Stilton and other tour participants by another airline.
Stilton and his fellow travelers arrived in Newark on the appointed day and boarded a Muenster plane for Tiverton, but the plane was forced to make an emergency landing in Bridgeport, Conn., and although no passengers were killed, many (including Stilton) were seriously injured.
One of the passengers, Charlene Cheddar, brought a diversity action for $125,000 damages against Muenster in a New Jersey federal court. The case went to trial and the jury found Muenster liable but awarded only $500 to Cheddar, apparently rejecting her claim of serious injury. No appeal was filed.
Stilton has now brought a diversity action of his own against Muenster in an Ames federal court, seeking $100,000 damages. The only portion of the Ames long-arm statute that might plausibly give in personam jurisdiction over Muenster in a state-court action is §103(a)(1). Section 103(a)(1) confers on the Ames state courts personal jurisdiction over “any person who acts directly, or by an agent, with respect to a cause of action arising from the person’s transacting of any business in this state.” Stilton made service of process on Muenster by registered mail (without any acknowledgement-of-service or request-for-waiver-of-service form enclosed) at Muenster’s home office in New Jersey; this form of service on out-of-state defendants is authorized by the Ames long-arm.
Stilton, in addition to relying on §103(a)(1) of the Ames long-arm, has sought to establish jurisdiction in the Ames federal court by attachment of an airplane owned by Muenster and currently under two-year lease to Gorgonzola Airways, a company doing business solely in Ames, at an annual rental of $20,000. The Ames long-arm says nothing about the validity of jurisdiction based on such attachments.