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Legal Memorandum: Court's Personal Jurisdiction

Issue: WHETHER, IN THE VIRGIN ISLANDS, A PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO AMEND WOULD BE FUTILE BECAUSE THE COURT HAS PERSONAL JURISDICTION.

Area of Law: Constitutional Law, Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Personal jurisdiction; Non-resident defendant
Jurisdiction: Virgin Islands
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: V.I. Code Ann. § 4903(a)(1)
Date: 12/01/2006

The Court may “exercise personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant when minimum contacts exist between the defendant and this territory.”  Hendrickson v. Reg O Co., 17 V.I. 457, 460 (D.V.I. 1980).  Under Virgin Islands law, a court has personal jurisdiction over a person arising, inter alia, “from the person’s . . . transacting any business in this territory”  V.I. Code Ann. § 4903(a)(1).  Stanton v. Hyatt Corp., 41 V.I. 275, 279 (D.V.I. 1999) (determining that the defendant’s filing of a lawsuit in New York for the purpose of enhancing its position to purchase property in the Virgin Islands—”to affect [its] destiny within this jurisdiction”—was an important factor leading to conclusion that the Court had jurisdiction over the defendant).  Section 4903 “has been construed to authorize the exercise of jurisdiction to the fullest extent permissible under the due process clause of the United States Constitution.”  Godfrey v. Int’l Moving Consultants, Inc., 18 V.I. 60, 66 (D.V.I. 1980) (concluding that provision of moving services that originated in the Virgin Islands was transacting business in the Virgin Islands for purposes of application of the long-arm statute). 

The focus is on the quality, not the quantity, of the defendant’s contacts with the forum.  Hendrickson, 17 V.I. at 460.  Thus, when the defendant did not have continuous or systematic contacts with the Virgin Islands, but “the contacts it did have facilitated the entry of the alleged defective valve into this jurisdiction . . . [t]he quality of those contacts suffice[d] to confer jurisdiction.”  Id. at 460-61.  Citing well-established Supreme […]

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