however, the ultimate question is whether the nonresident defendant had “substantial contact” with the forum state. Long-arm statutes provide that, when the evidence shows that the defendant has had sufficient contact with the forum state, the summons is to be sent to a central office in the forum state. In most states, this is the secretary of state’s office. The official in charge of that office then has the responsibility to send the summons to the defendant at its out-of-state address. When the nonresident defendant receives the summons, the defendant either has to respond to the merits of the complaint or, if the defendant believes that it has not had substantial contact with the forum state, it will have an attorney make a special appearance. What kinds of thing count as “substantial contacts”? Read on. 1. If a nonresident has had continuing contacts with the forum state, a long arm statute is normally effective. To state it another way, the nonresident has either maintained a physical presence in the forum state or has continually targeted activities at the forum state over a substantial period of time. In such a case, a court can acquire personal jurisdiction over the nonresident defendant regardless of the nature of the dispute and regardless of whether the dispute arose from one of the specific contacts the defendant had with the forum state. This is called general personal jurisdiction . If Don Defendant has a vacation home in Austin where he spends his summers, then a Texas court would have personal jurisdiction over Don. 2. If there is an insufficient basis for general personal jurisdiction, the court may still be able to obtain jurisdiction over the nonresident defendant if the nonresident defendant has intentionally engaged in a specific act in the forum state such as going into the state and committing a tort or making a contract with someone in the forum state. In such a case, though, the dispute must arise out of that specific contact. This is specific personal jurisdiction . If Don Defendant rarely visits Texas, but the last time he did come to the state, he crashed his rental car into Paul Plaintiff’s car, then specific personal jurisdiction would exist. The same would be true if Don’s California-based business sold and shipped an item to a customer in Texas who was injured by the product. EXAMPLE: One more time with our basic story, this time with some additional backstory.
9/25/2018 Print canvas 27/216 Paul Plaintiff, a resident of Texas, files a lawsuit in Texas against Don Defendant, a resident of California. Don receives notice of the lawsuit, and tells his lawyer, “I don’t want to travel to Texas to be sued by this guy.” Don’s lawyer says, “Maybe you don’t have to.” The lawyer argues that the Texas court lacks personal jurisdiction over Don. Paul’s lawyer asserts that the court does have personal jurisdiction, and that the case should proceed.
- Spring '08
- Common Law, Supreme Court of the United States, Appellate court, Trial court, State court