Long Essay Question on Midterm with Model Answer

2nd (Hard) Multiple Choice from the Midterm Exam

2. In each of these cases the plaintiff brings suit against the defendant in federal court in New York. In which of these cases is the defendant’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction most likely to succeed? Do not assume the defendant has any contacts with New York other than those mentioned.

a. P (a citizen of New York) brings an action against D (a Turkish national domiciled in Turkey) for violations of federal antiterrorism law concerning an attack on Americans in Turkey in which P was harmed. D is served in Turkey.

b. P (a citizen of New York) brings an action against D (a citizen of Pennsylvania) under federal civil rights law concerning the defendant’s arrest of the plaintiff in Buffalo, New York. D is served at his home in Pennsylvania.

c. P (a New York citizen) sues a widget manufacturer, D Corp (incorporated in New York but with its headquarters and all of its employees and factories in Massachusetts). The D Corp ships its widgets to stores in all fifty states. P sues the D Corp under California product liability law for a widget he bought at a store while on vacation in California that harmed him in California.

d. P (a New York citizen) sues a widget manufacturer, D Corp (incorporated in Delaware with its headquarters and all of its employees and factories in Massachusetts). The D Corp ships its widgets to stores in all fifty states. P sues the D Corp under California product liability law for a widget he bought at a store while on vacation in California that harmed him in California. P has the summons and complaint delivered in hand to the D Corp’s chief legal officer while she is in New York on business for the D Corp.

e. P (a New York citizen) sues D (a German subject domiciled in Germany) to determine ownership of 1000 shares in the D Corp (incorporated in New York with its headquarters and all of its employees and factories in Massachusetts). Under New York law, shares in a New York corporation are considered to be located in New York.

a. P (a citizen of New York) brings an action against D (a Turkish national domiciled in Turkey) for violations of federal antiterrorism law concerning an attack on Americans in Turkey in which P was harmed. D is served in Turkey.

This is not the best answer. It is a possible example (similar to one we discussed in class) of personal jurisdiction in federal court under FRCP 4(k)(2), which states:

(2) Federal Claim Outside State-Court Jurisdiction. For a claim that arises under federal law, serving a summons or filing a waiver of service establishes personal jurisdiction over a defendant if:

(A) the defendant is not subject to jurisdiction in any state's courts of general jurisdiction; and

(B) exercising jurisdiction is consistent with the United States Constitution and laws.

There may be a problem of satisfying 5th Amendment due process, but—as I noted in class—there is a tendency to read the contacts with the United States required to have personal jurisdiction in federal court under the 5th Amendment more broadly than the contact with a state that is required to get personal jurisdiction under the 14th Amendment. Even using the usual 14th Amendment approach (but now concerning the United States as a whole), it is possible that there is personal jurisdiction under the 5th Amendment. D may have reached to to the United States by targeting Americans (it was described as an attack "on Americans"). That would probably be enough to satisfy Walden.

b. P (a citizen of New York) brings an action against D (a citizen of Pennsylvania) under federal civil rights law concerning the defendant’s arrest of the plaintiff in Buffalo, New York. D is served at his home in Pennsylvania.

Wrong. There is specific personal jurisdiction over D in state court in New York (and thus in federal court in New York under FRCP 4(k)(1)(A)) because D arrested P in New York and the cause of action concerns that arrest.

c. P (a New York citizen) sues a widget manufacturer, D Corp (incorporated in New York but with its headquarters and all of its employees and factories in Massachusetts). The D Corp ships its widgets to stores in all fifty states. P sues the D Corp under California product liability law for a widget he bought at a store while on vacation in California that harmed him in California.

Wrong. There is general personal jurisdiction over the D Corp in state court in New York (and thus in federal court in New York under FRCP 4(k)(1)(A)) because the D Corp is incorporated in New York.

d. P (a New York citizen) sues a widget manufacturer, D Corp (incorporated in Delaware with its headquarters and all of its employees and factories in Massachusetts). The D Corp ships its widgets to stores in all fifty states. P sues the D Corp under California product liability law for a widget he bought at a store while on vacation in California that harmed him in California. P has the summons and complaint delivered in hand to the D Corp’s chief legal officer while she is in New York on business for the D Corp.

Correct. There is no personal jurisdiction over D Corp in state court in New York. Serving the CLO in New York does nothing to establish personal jurisdiction in New York. The fact that the D Corp ships widgets to New York is also insufficient for specific personal jurisdiction because the cause of action is unrelated to those sales—the widget being sued about was bought in California and harmed P there. The Supreme Court in Bristol Myers Squibb has made it clear that specific personal jurisdiction (or what I have called “category jurisdiction”) does not exist in such cases. There are no other sources of personal jurisdiction.

e. P (a New York citizen) sues D (a German subject domiciled in Germany) to determine ownership of 1000 shares in the D Corp (incorporated in New York with its headquarters and all of its employees and factories in Massachusetts). Under New York law, shares in a New York corporation are considered to be located in New York.

Wrong. This is not the best answer. We discussed in class how such a case (a quasi in rem action of the first type) might still work post-Shaffer. True, this is like Shaffer because the property at issue is not clearly in New York, but it is unlike Shaffer because here the cause of action in this case is directly related to the property.

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