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Seeking the Home FieldAdvantage


Seeking the Home Field Advantage

Challenges to Personal Jurisdiction


Surely one of the most fundamental principles of civil procedure is that the courts of a state may not exercise judicial power over a defendant unless that defendant has, in one way or another, submitted to the jurisdiction of the courts of that state. A century of case law has given some specificity to this requirement. As Chapter 1 indicates, defendants may be subject to jurisdiction under the due process analysis on the basis of domicile in a state, in-state service of process, consent to jurisdiction, continuous or substantial in-state contacts, or as a result of “minimum contacts” with the forum state that give rise to a particular cause of action.

It is not always clear when a plaintiff sues a defendant in a particular state whether one of these bases for personal jurisdiction is met. Suppose, for example, that Wolfe, a North Carolina novelist, gives a newspaper interview in North Carolina in which he disparages Hemingway’s writing abilities. Hemingway sues Wolfe in Oregon for libel. When Wolfe is served with the complaint, he may be unsure whether the Oregon court has the right to exercise jurisdiction over him. For example, he may not know whether the newspaper that interviewed him is circulated in Oregon or whether Hemingway has suffered any injury in Oregon as a result of the alleged libel. If Wolfe has no other connections with Oregon, he may well conclude that the courts of Oregon have no right to order him to appear and defend the suit in Oregon.

This chapter explores the options available to a defendant like Wolfe to present his objection to the exercise of personal jurisdiction over him by the courts of another state. Generally, these options involve a challenge either in the court in which the original action is brought (the rendering state) or in another state where enforcement of the original judgment is sought (the enforcing state).

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