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Agenda for 17th Class. Name plates out Personal Jurisdiction: International Shoe General and Specific Jurisdiction Challenging jurisdiction McGee; Hanson v Denkla Next Class Yeazell, 103-112 Questions to think about / Writing assignment Briefly summarize World Wide Volkswagen

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agenda for 17th class
Agenda for 17th Class
  • Name plates out
  • Personal Jurisdiction:
    • International Shoe
    • General and Specific Jurisdiction
    • Challenging jurisdiction
    • McGee; Hanson v Denkla
  • Next Class
    • Yeazell, 103-112
    • Questions to think about / Writing assignment
      • Briefly summarize World Wide Volkswagen
      • Yeazell pp. 109ff 1c, 4e
      • Did the plaintiffs in World-Wide Volkswagen sue in federal or state court? How can you tell from the opinion itself (not Yeazell’s notes)?
      • What is a writ of prohibition? Why did the defendants seek one?
      • Who is Woodson? How did he get in the case?
      • Questions on next page
next class continued
Next Class (continued)

Questions to think about (continued)

There were four defendants in the original action. Which of them challenged jurisdiction? What if anything, did the U.S. Supreme Court decide about jurisdiction over each of the four defendants. If there were some defendants for whom the U.S. Supreme Court did not rule on personal jurisdiction, how would you argue that the trial court had jurisdiction over them? How would you argue that the trial court did not have jurisdiction over them?

Would the case have come out differently if the Robinsons had gotten into an accident in New Jersey and sued in a New Jersey court, but the facts were otherwise the same?

Suppose the Robinsons had purchased their Audi in California from Pacific Audi in Torrance, had gotten into an accident in California, and sued Audi, Volkswagen of America, Pacific Volkswagen (the regional distributor, based in Nevada) and Pacific Audi in a California court. Would the California court have jurisdiction over all, some, or none of the defendants? Note that there is a passage in the opinion which directly addresses this question. Is it dicta?


last class german procedure
Last Class: German Procedure

Key differences

No jury

Judge chooses witnesses to question and questions them herself

Judge chooses experts

Judge chooses documents to request

No trial

Just sequence of hearings

No duplication of testimony between discovery and trial

Judicial control over sequence

Coaching of witnesses not allowed

No transcript of depositions / trial

Judge summarizes

De novo appellate review

Career judiciary

Judges selected right out of law school

Judges promoted through bureaucratic process


introduction to personal jurisdiction
Introduction to Personal Jurisdiction
  • Court must have statutory or rule authority AND statute or rule must be constitutional
    • State statutes are generally called “Long Arm Statutes”
      • Enumerated Act statutes
        • E.g. statute says, State court has jurisdiction over defendant if it is a citizen of the state, if it committed a tort in the state, if it was a party to a contract to be performed in the state…
      • To the Limit of the Constitution statutes (CA)
    • Federal rule is FRCP 4(k)(1)(A)
      • Federal courts generally apply state long-arm statute
    • Course will focus on constitutional limitations
      • Due Process clause
rules before international shoe 1945
Rules before International Shoe (1945)
  • Pennoyer v Neff (1877)
  • 3 bases for personal jurisdiction
    • In personam. If defendant is citizen or resident of state, or present in state, or consented to jurisdiction
      • For individuals, limit was service of process in airplane over Arkansas. Grace v. MacArthur (1959)
      • Corporations are citizens in state where incorporated (e.g. Delaware)
      • Difficult to determine where corporation is “present”
        • Where headquartered. Clearly yes
        • Where has plant or office and lots of employees. Clearly yes
        • What if only has a few employees? Not clear
        • Where does business? Unclear what means to “do business”
    • In rem. In dispute about property, personal jurisdiction is proper where property is located
    • Quasi in rem. If suit is NOT about property, but defendant has property in state, plaintiff can sue in that state for whatever cause of action, but recovery is limited to value of property in state
international shoe 1945
International Shoe (1945)
  • International Shoe, incorporated in Delaware with principal place of business in Missouri, employed salesmen who resided in Washington to sell shoes there. Salesmen show samples and solicit orders, which are then transmitted and fulfilled from Missouri. State of Washington sued in Washington state court for unemployment compensation contribution.
  • Held. Defendant could constitutionally be subject to jurisdiction in Washington state, because it had “minimum contacts” with Washington state and exercise of jurisdiction would not “offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.”
    • Corporation is fiction, so not proper to base jurisdiction on presence
questions on international shoe
Questions on International Shoe

If the Supreme Court had not decided to change the rules in International Shoe, would jurisdiction have been proper under the prior rules? If your answer is “yes,” why do you think the Supreme Court changed the rules? If you answer is “no,” why was the outcome under the new rules better?

Yeazell pp. 86ff. Qs 1b, 3


general and specific jurisdiction
General and Specific Jurisdiction

General jurisdiction

Court which has general jurisdiction over a defendant can hear any case against the defendant

Even if case has nothing to do with forum

Bases for general jurisdiction

Citizenship/incorporation, residence, presence, quasi-in-rem (but no longer constitutional)

Corporation with lots of contacts: headquarters, large plant or office, etc. But not clear how large contacts need to be

Do not confuse with “court of general jurisdiction”

Court of general jurisdiction = non-specialized trial court, such as LA Superior Court

See FRCP 4(k)(1)(A).

Specific Jurisdiction

Jurisdiction only over cases related to contacts

Most cases we will read for class

In rem can be thought of as specific jurisdiction

Consent can also be thought of as specific jurisdiction


2 ways to challenge jurisdiction
2 Ways to Challenge Jurisdiction

In court where sued

Make 12(b)(2) motion or state equivalent

“Special appearance” means defendant appears in court solely to challenge jurisdiction

Otherwise, appearance in court could be construed as consent to jurisdiction

Collateral attack

Only possible where defendant does not have assets in forum

So plaintiff would have to enforce judgment in state where defendant has assets

Enforcing judgment in another state requires separate suit in that state

But Full Faith & Credit Clause of US Constitution requires state to respect judgment of another state, IF THE STATE WHICH RENDERED THE JUDGMENT HAD JURISDICTION

Defendant does not appear in court where sued

Default judgment is entered against defendant

When plaintiff goes to enforce judgment in state where defendant has assets, defendant raises lack of personal jurisdiction as defense

Very risky, because if enforcing court decides the original court had jurisdiction, defendant cannot then challenge judgment on merits


mcgee hanson
McGee; Hanson

McGee v International Life (1957). Yeazell p. 89.

Franklin (CA resident) purchased life insurance by mail from out-of-state insurer. He died, and insurer refused to pay. Beneficiaries sued insurer in California.

Held: California courts can constitutionally exert jurisdiction, because contract “was delivered in California, the premiums were mailed from there and the insured was a resident of that State when he died.”

Hanson v Denkla (1958). Yeazell p. 90

Mrs. Donner (PA resident) created a trust in Delaware, with a Delaware bank as trustee. Later she moved to Florida. After she died, potential beneficiaries filed suit in Florida over the administration of the trust

Held. Florida courts cannot constitutional exert jurisdiction because:

Defendant “has no office in Flroida and transacts no business there… no solicitation of business in that State either in person or by mail.”

“The unilateral activity of [Mrs. Donner] … cannot satisfy the requirement of contact with the forum state.”

For jurisdiction, defendant must “purposefully avail[] itself of the privilege of conducting activities within the forum state, thus invoking the benefits and protection of its laws.”