Legal Memorandum: Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction


Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Motion to dismiss; Absence of personal jurisdiction
Jurisdiction: Virgin Islands
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: V.I. Code Ann. § 4903, 4903(a)(1)
Date: 12/01/2006

Resolution of a motion to dismiss for absence of personal jurisdiction depends on facts outside the pleadings.  Hartman v. Texaco, Inc., 29 V.I. 41, 72-73 (D.V.I. 1993), quoted in C & C/Manhattan v. Sunex Int’l, Inc., 42 V.I. 3, 5 (Terr. Ct. 1999).  “‘The plaintiff need only make a prima facie showing that jurisdiction exists to survive the motion to dismiss.  At this stage, all allegations of jurisdictional facts are considered in a light most favorable to an assertion of in personam jurisdiction.'”  Id., 42 V.I. at 5 (quoting Hartman, 29 V.I. at 72-73).

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).  This Court examines § 4903 to determine whether a Virgin Island court would have personal jurisdiction over Defendant.  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 […]

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