Basic Principles

Personal Jurisdiction Defined

Court’s authority to bind the parties to judgment

Basis of Personal Jurisdiction


Due Process

Jurisdiction Based on Presence

Pennoyer v. Neff (US 1878)

Facts & Procedural History

Prior suit: Mitchell v. Neff (Oregon state court)

This suit: Neff v. Pennoyer (Oregon federal court)


In personam judgment against non-resident defendant is void, where defendant was not personally served within state

Where the court lacks personal jurisdiction over the defendant, an in personam judgment against that defendant is void (n.b. not voidable)


Formalist theory of state sovereignty

Court recognizes exceptions to the physical presence requirement


If Mitchell had personally served Neff in California (where Neff lived), would that have been effective? Why?

Was there any way Mitchell could have sued in Oregon?

Was there any other way to sue Neff in Oregon?

Continued Viability of Presence

Burnham v. Superior Ct. (US 1990)



LeMond (resident of MN) & Stanko (resident of PA) enter into contract for Stanko to represent LeMond in arranging sponsorship deals. A dispute arises between Stanko & LeMond. Stanko files suit in PA, but does not serve LeMond. Stanko suggests that the parties meet at his office in PA to attempt to reach a settlement. LeMond does not attend, but sends his father, Robert. When Robert arrives, he is served with summons directed to Greg.

While on a non-stop flight from NY to Hawaii, Defendant’s plane is grounded in California because of a storm. While Defendant is waiting in the airport, he is served with a summons for a suit in CA.

Suppose the plane is not grounded. As the plane passes over California on the way to Hawaii, a process server aboard the plane hands Defendant a summons.

Jurisdiction Based on Consent

Kane v. New Jersey (US 1916)

State law requires that out-of-state motorists expressly designate an in-state agent for service of process as a condition of using the state’s roads

In a suit over an accident that occurred while the non-resident was driving in the state, service on the in-state agent is sufficient to confer jurisdiction over the out-of-state defendant.

Hess v. Pawloski (US 1927)

Out-of-state motorist’s use of state’s roads implies appointment of a state official as the non-resident’s in-state agent for service

Ins. Corp. of Ireland, Ltd. v. Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinee (US 1982)

Facts & Procedural History

CBG (a DE corporation based in Guinea) sued multiple insurance carriers including ICI (incorporated & based in Ireland) in PA federal court. Suit involved dispute over insurance coverage.

ICI & other foreign defendants asserted lack of personal jurisdiction as a defense. CBG served discovery requests seeking documents pertaining to foreign defendants’ activities in PA, for purpose of establishing jurisdiction. After defendants repeated failure to produce the documents, the trial court imposed discovery sanctions under FRCP Rule 37(b). Sanctions included an order, pursuant to Rule 37(b)(2)(A), that “for the purposes of this litigation the [foreign defendants] are subject to the in personam jurisdiction of this Court due to their business contacts with Pennsylvania”.

Foreign defendants appealed, arguing that the discovery sanction was improper because the court lacked personal jurisdiction over the defendants in the first place.


By making a special appearance to contest jurisdiction (instead of refusing to appear and risking a default judgment), the defendants submitted to the court’s jurisdiction for that purpose and is bound by the court’s determination of that issue.

The court’s imposition of sanctions, including a determination that the facts supporting jurisdiction were established, was not an abuse of discretion.


The requirement of personal jurisdiction is not a limit on the court’s sovereignty (which the parties cannot waive) but an individual right that can be waived

A defendant’s conduct may constitute implied consent to jurisdiction, or may result in the defendant’s being estopped from contesting jurisdiction - This may include the defendant’s failure to comply with procedural rules


Neff sues Mitchell in Oregon for legal malpractice

Suppose that Dowell, a resident of Oregon, has an unrelated claim against Neff for breach of contract.

Carnival Cruise Lines v. Shute (US 1991)

A non-negotiable forum selection clause was enforceable against plaintiffs, even though they didn’t receive tickets until after they’d already paid and the clause was printed on reverse of ticket.

Jurisdiction Based on Contacts

Origins of the Minimum Contacts Standard

International Shoe v. Washington (US 1945)

Facts & Procedural History

Missouri corporation sold shoes through sales representatives in Washington.

Sales representatives received orders from customers and transmitted them to company for acceptance in Missouri. The company fulfilled orders & shipping them FOB from Missouri.

Washington sought to collect unemployment insurance tax from company for Washington-based sales representatives.

Company appealed, arguing it was not subject to personal jurisdiction in Washington because it lacked any physical presence there

Holding & Analysis

Due process is satisfied where non-resident defendant has “minimum contacts with [the forum state] such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend ‘traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.’”


Activity by the defendant, conducted within or directed at the forum state.

Nature & quality of contacts:

“[T]]o the extent that a corporation exercises the privilege of conducting activities within a state, it enjoys the benefits and protection of the laws of that state”

Company’s in-state activity, through it’s sales employees, was sufficient to satisfy minimum contacts requirement - Case arose out of that activity

Service of process on company’s in-state employees (agents), whose in-state activities constitute company’s “presence”, is sufficient to provide notice.

Hanson v. Denckla (US 1958)

Facts & Procedural History

Donner, a Pennsylvania resident, established a trust, naming a Delaware bank as trustee.

After Donner moved to Florida, she executed a power of appointment transferring $400k from the trust to two other trusts that her daughter, Hanson, had established for the benefit of her sons (Donner’s grandsons). Another Delaware bank was the trustee for these trusts.

Donner also executed a will, naming Hanson as executor, and directed that the balance of the original trust ($1 million) would pass under the will.

Donner’s two other daughters, Denckla & Stewart, were the residual beneficiaries under the will. They contested the validity of the appointment granting $400k from the Donner trust to the two Hanson trusts, contending that this money should also pass to them under the will.

Denckla & Stewart filed a declaratory judgment action in Florida court against Hanson and the two Delaware banks, to determine the status of the disputed trust funds

Hanson and her sons moved to dismiss on the grounds that the Banks were not validly served and could not properly be joined because the Florida court lacked personal jurisdiction.

The Florida court agreed that it lacked jurisdiction over the Delaware banks, but held that the appointment was invalid under Florida law and that the disputed funds should pass under the will.

While the Florida action was pending, Hanson filed a declaratory judgment action in Delaware state court.

After the Florida court issued its ruling, Denckla & Stewart argued that the Florida judgment was binding on the Delaware court as res judicata. The Delaware court ruled that the appointment was valid under Delaware law and that the disputed funds belonged to the two Hanson trusts.

The Florida case was appealed to the Florida supreme court, which affirmed the lower court’s judgment on the merits, and further held that the Florida court had jurisdiction over the Delaware banks.

Holding & Analysis

Florida court lacked jurisdiction over Delaware banks, and its judgment was therefore not entitled to full faith and credit, where Delaware banks did not have minimum contacts with Florida.

Minimum contacts must be based on “acts by which the defendant purposefully avails itself of the privilege of conducting activities within the forum State”. Unilateral acts of other persons alone do not suffice

Trustee’s mere continuation of business with settler, after she moved from PA to FL, was not sufficient to constitute minimum contacts with FL


Following International Shoe & Hanson, would Neff have been subject to jurisdiction in Oregon on Mitchell’s breach of contract suit?

Contacts Based on Contractual Relationships

McGee v. International Life Ins. Co. (US 1957)

Facts & Procedural History

McGee sued International Life, a Texas corporation, in California state court over its refusal to pay benefits under a life insurance policy. The policy was issued by Empire Mutual, an Arizona corporation, which sold the policy to Franklin, a California resident.

International acquired Empire Mutual and assumed its obligations under the policy. Neither Empire nor International solicited any other business or sold any other policies in California.

California statute gave jurisdiction over foreign insurance corporations in suits over insurance contracts with in-state residents

McGee served International by mail at its Texas office. International did not respond nor appear in California court and California court entered a default judgment in favor of McGee.

McGee sought to enforce her California judgment in Texas, but the Texas court refused to honor the California judgment.

Holding & Analysis

Jurisdiction in California was proper where Empire solicited the policy in California and International continued to accept payment from the California policy holder.

Balance the burden on defendant v. interest of state

Burger King v. Rudzewicz (US 1985)

MI franchisee subject to jurisdiction in FL based on contractual relationship with FL-based franchisor, even though all of franchisee’s activity occurred in MI

Court treats contract as purposeful activity directed at FL. Important aspects of performance under the contract took place in Florida. Contractual choice of FL law indicates purposeful availment


A, a SC resident, driving through NC on the way from VA back home to SC, gets into a car accident with B, a NC resident.

As a result of the accident, A needs a new tire, which she purchases from C’s service station in NC. A pays by check, which bounces.

After A reaches SC, the tire has a blow out.

Contacts Based on Publication

Keeton v Hustler Magazine (US 1984)

Keeton (NY) sued Hustler (OH/CA) in NH for defamation.

Defendants’ sale of magazines (>10k copies) in NH was sufficient to confer jurisdiction.

Plaintiff’s lack of contacts with forum state is irrelevant.

Calder v. Jones (US 1984)

Jones (CA) sued the National Enquirer (FL), along with its editor & reporter (both FL) in CA

Jurisdiction in California proper where effects of defendants’ conduct were felt in CA

Effects test may be limited to intentional torts.

Young v. New Haven Advocate (4th Cir. 2002)

VA prison warden sued CT newspaper in VA, asserting defamation claim based on story about conditions in VA prison where inmates from CT were held.

Virginia court lacked personal jurisdiction over CT paper

Dutcher v. Eastburn (E.D.N.C. 2011)

Dutcher (NC resident) sued the author (Colorado resident living in Texas when suit was filed) and publisher (incorporated in NY, based in MA) of a nonfiction book about the murder of his parents & nephew in Colorado, contending that the book contained defamatory statements about him.

Defendants did not have sufficient NC contacts to support jurisdiction

Calder v. Jones distinguished:

Contacts and the Stream of Commerce

World Wide Volkswagen v. Woodson (US 1980)

Facts & Procedural History

The Robinsons purchased an Audi from Seaway VW, a NY dealer. The car was manufactured by Audi (Germany), imported by VW of America (NJ), and distributed by World-Wide VW (NY).

While driving from NY to AZ, the Robinsons were in an accident in Oklahoma.

The Robinsons sued in Oklahoma state court, naming Seaway, World-Wide VW, VW of America, and Audi as defendants

Oklahoma courts interpreted the state’s enumerated long-arm statute to reach constitutional limit.

Holding & Analysis

The Oklahoma court lacked jurisdiction over Seaway and World-Wide, because those defendants had no contacts with the state.

Focus of the Minimum Contacts Standard: Reasonableness

Unlike the formalist standard in Pennoyer, the Minimum Contacts standard evolves with changing economic and other social circumstances.


Purpose of a car is mobility. Defendants benefit economically from sale of cars, and should expect they might be driven elsewhere

Both dissents (Brennan; Marshall/Blackmun) see this as a straightforward “stream of commerce” case, indistinguishable from Gray v. American Radiator

State has substantial interest

Brennan would abandon the “defendant focus” of International Shoe and also look at plaintiffs’ contacts.

Asahi Metal Industry Co. v. Superior Ct. (US 1987)

Facts & Procedural History

Zurcher was injured, and his wife killed, in a motorcycle accident in California.

Zurcher sued Cheng Shin, Taiwanese manufacturer of motorcycle’s tires, in California. Cheng Shin impleaded Asahi, Japanese manufacturer of tire valves.

After Zurcher settled, Asahi moved to dismiss Cheng Shin’s third-party claim for lack of personal jurisdiction.

Holding & Analysis

O’Connor opinion (4 Justices)

No minimum contacts where foreign manufacturer of component part did not market or sell goods directly to California

Minimum contacts

“Stream of Commerce” does not create presumption of purposeful availment

Indicators of purposeful availment

Plaintiff has burden of establishing that defendant has minimum contacts.

Brennan opinion (4 Justices)

Placing goods in stream of commerce satisfies minimum contact requirement

But exercise of jurisdiction is unreasonable, based on the “interest” factors

J. McIntyre Machinery Ltd. V. Nicastro (US 2011)

Facts & Procedural History

Suit against British manufacturer of machine that injured plaintiff in NJ. Machine was sold in US by independent distributor, not under McIntyre’s control. Distributor followed McIntyre’s “direction and guidance whenever possible” in advertising and sales. No more than four machines ended up in NJ. McIntyre held US patents and McIntyre personnel attended industry events in US (but not in NJ) to promote sales.

Holding & Analysis

Kennedy Opinion (4 Justices)

Breyer opinion (2 Justices)

Facts don’t support finding of minimum contacts based on single in-state sale

Declines to make broader pronouncement

Dissent (3 Justices)

Would apply Brennan’s “stream of commerce” theory

Long-Arm Statutes

Varieties of Long-Arm Statute

Constitutional-limits statute

Co-extensive with constitutional limits on jurisdiction

Enumerated statute

Applies to specifically-enumerated acts

Often interpreted to extend to constitutional limits

Applying Long-Arm Statutes

Gray v. American Radiator & Standard Sanitary Corp. (Ill. 1961)

Facts & Procedural History

Gray was injured when a water heater, manufactured by American Radiator (IL), exploded. Explosion was caused by valve manufactured by Titan (Ohio).

Gray sued American Radiator & Titan in Illinois, and served Titan by mail in Ohio.

Titan moved to dismiss on two grounds:

Holding & Analysis

Statutory interpretation

Illinois long-arm statute conferred jurisdiction against a defendant who “commits a tortuous act within this State”. The place of injury (IL), not the place of defendant’s last act (manufacture & sale of valve outside IL), is the place where the tortuous act occurred.

Due Process/Minimum Contacts

“Where the business done by a foreign corporation in the State of the forum is of a sufficiently substantial nature, it has been held permissible for the State to entertain a suit against it even though the cause of action arose from activities entirely distinct from its conduct within the State. But where such business or other activity is not substantial, the particular act or transaction having no connection with the State of the forum, the requirement of ‘contact’ is not satisfied.” 176 NE2d at 438 (Citations omitted)

Single act/transaction within forum state may suffice, if it is basis of suit

Court assumes other appliances with Titan valves were sold in IL.

Does this analysis & holding survive Asahi Metal?

General Jurisdiction

General jurisdiction over individuals

An individual is always subject to personal jurisdiction in their home state, regardless of whether cause of action has any connection to that state.

Based on state sovereignty theory (Pennoyer).

General jurisdiction over corporations

Perkins v. Benguet Consolidated Mining Co. (US 1952)

Mining company from Philipines, shifted corporate activity to US during Japanese occupation. Company regularly conducted its business from Ohio location.

Shareholder brought derivative action against corporation in Ohio

For purposes of personal jurisdiction, the company was effectively “at home” in Ohio, and could be sued there even where the cause of action did not arise in Ohio.

Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia v. Hall (US 1984)

Facts & Procedural History

Wrongful death action arising from helicoptor accident in Peru

Defendant, Columbian corporation, operated helicopter per contract with decedants’ employer, Peruvian corportion that was alter ego of Texas corporation

Plaintiffs conceded the case did not arise from Defendant’s activity in Texas

Contract included forum selection clause providing that any suits arising out of the contract must be brought in Peru.

Holding & Analysis


Dissent (Brennan)

Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown (US 2011)

Facts & Procedural History

Parents of children killed in bus accident in France sued tire manufacturer in NC. Tires were manufactured by Turkish subsidiary of US corporation.

The parent corporation conceded jurisdiction, based on its own activity in NC.

The Turkish subsidiary made tires aimed at European & Asian markets. A few of their tires sold in NC, on custom orders for specialty use. No tires of the type involved in the accident were ever distributed in NC.

NC trial court denied motion to dismiss. NC Court of Appeals affirmed, applying the “stream of commerce” theory to “general jurisdiction”.

Holding & Analysis

Foreign defendants’ contacts with NC were not sufficient to support general jurisdiction.

General jurisdiction applies only where foreign corporation’s contacts “are so ‘continuous and systematic’ as to render them essentially at home in the forum State”

“Stream of commerce” theory has no application in general jurisdiction context, where the claim does not arise from any forum-state contacts

Daimler AG v. Bauman (US 2014)

Facts & Procedural History

Residents of Argentina sued Daimler in California federal court, alleging that Daimler’s Argentinian subsidiary collaborated with government security forces during Argentina’s “dirty war”. Plaintiffs were victims, or family members of victims, of government human rights abuses.

Daimler, incorporated and based in Germany, moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.

Plaintiffs argued that Daimler was subject to jurisdiction in California based on the California contacts of its US subsidiary, Mercedes-Benz USA, incorporated in Delaware and based in New Jersey. District Court granted Daimler’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.

Court of Appeals reversed.

Holding & Anlaysis

No personal jurisdiction over Daimler in California in suit for injuries that occurred, and were cause by conduct occurring, outside the US.

General jurisdiction (i.e. in a case not arising from in-state contacts) requires more than “continuous and systematic” contacts with the forum state. The defendant must be “essentially at home in the forum state” (quoting Goodyear).

Neither Daimler nor MBUSA was incorporated or based in California, and their California activity was insufficient to make them “virtually at home” there.

Activity giving rise to claims occurred entirely outside California and had no direct impact there.

Under these facts, California could not assert general jurisdiction

Jurisdiction Over Property

In Rem jurisdiction

Suit to establish rights in property against all other claimants (i.e. Quiet Title)

Quasi In Rem Jurisdiction

Property is related to, or at issue in, suit

Quasi in Rem I

Suit to enforce pre-existing interest in property (e.g. lien)

Quasi in Rem II(a)

Property is factually related to cause of action

Quasi in Rem II(b)

Property belonging to the defendant/judgment-debtor is used to secure or satisfy a (pre-existing) judgment.

Harris v. Balk (US 1905)

Facts & Procedural History

Harris (NC) owed money to Balk (NC); Balk (NC) owed money to Epstein (MD)

While Harris was traveling in MD, Epstein brought quasi in rem action, attaching Harris’s debt to Balk, to satisfy Balk’s debt to Epstein. MD court ordered Harris to pay Epstein instead of Balk.

Balk later sued Harris in NC to collect on Harris’s debt to Balk. Harris argued NC court must give full faith and credit to MD judgment, and his payment to Epstein pursuant to that order discharged his debt to Balk. Balk argued MD judgment was void for lack of personal jurisdiction.


Whether attachment of Balk’s property (i.e. debt owed by Harris) located in MD was sufficient to establish quasi in rem jurisdiction over Balk

Holding & Analysis

Maryland court’s exercise of quasi in rem jurisdiction, as authorized by Maryland law, satisfied due process, and judgment was valid.

A debt represents property of creditor. The debt is located wherever debtor is present.

Harris is bound by MD judgment, because he was personally served while in MD.

Attachment of Balk’s property in MD is sufficient to satisfy due process.

Minimum Contacts & In Rem Jurisdiction

Shaffer v. Heitner (US 1977)

Facts & Procedural History

Shaffer brought shareholder derivative suit in DE against Greyhound Corp. (DE corp, based in AZ) & corporate directors (not DE residents)

Suit alleged directors breached their fiduciary duty by approving activity that resulted in civil and criminal antitrust liability that resulted in civil and criminal antitrust liability. Activity at issue occurred in Oregon.

DE law provided for “sequestration” of non-resident defendant’s in-state property as means to obtain jurisdiction. If defendant appears & consents to jurisdiction, sequestration is released.

Defendant directors owned shares of Greyhound stock. Under DE law, shares of DE corporation were “located” in Delaware.

Heitner served directors by mail to their out-of-state addresses and publication in Delaware newspaper (per DE law).

Defendants argued the DE court lacked personal jurisdiction because they had no minimum contacts with DE. The DE court held sequestration was sufficient to establish quasi in rem jurisdiction.

Holding & Analysis

“Minimum Contacts” standard applies to quasi in rem jurisdiction

Where property is unrelated to cause of action, defendants must have other contacts with forum state to support jurisdiction.

Court noted that Delaware law was unusual in treating shares as located in state of incorporation, rather than shareholder’s state of residence. Mere ownership of shares is not enough to satisfy minimum contacts, where the “location” of that property in the state is a matter of legal formality, not any act or decision by defendants.

“Necessity” exception (dicta)


Delaware amended state law to allow long-arm jurisdiction over an out-of-state director of DE corporation in any suit arising from acts or omissions as director.


In Rem, Quasi in Rem I, and Quasi in Rem II(a)

Minimum contacts standard is always satisfied

Quasi in rem II(b)

Assuming property is defendant’s only contact with the forum state, satisfaction of minimum contacts standard depends on relationship between property and cause of action


Bob, a resident of PA, buys a fishing boat, which he pays for with money he borrows from the Delaware National Bank. As part of the loan agreement, the bank takes a security interest in the boat. Bob keeps the boat at a dock on the Chesapeake Bay in MD. When Bob defaults on the loan payment, the Bank brings an action in MD, and has the court attach the boat.

Lefty, who lives in MD, goes fishing with Bob on Bob’s boat in Virginia. As a result of a carelessly executed backcast, Bob hooks Lefty in the eye with his fly. After Bob returns home to PA, Lefty brings suit in MD, and has the court attach Bob’s boat (which is docked in MD).

Joan, who lives in NY, lends Bob $10,000 to start up a fly tackle shop out of Bob’s home in Pennsylvania. Bob lends his boat to Lee, who (without telling Bob) sails it to Montauk, NY, for some fishing. Meanwhile, Bob has failed to repay Joan, and she decides to bring suit. While the boat is docked in Montauk, Joan files her suit in NY, and has the court attach the boat.