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Legal Memorandum: Personal Jurisdiction over a Corporate Officer

Issue: Under federal law as applied in the Virgin Islands, when may personal jurisdiction be asserted over a corporate officer?

Area of Law: Corporate & Securities, Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Personal jurisdiction; Corporate officer
Jurisdiction: Federal, Virgin Islands
Cited Cases: 172 F. Supp. 2d 636
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 03/01/2008

In Gerald Chamales Corp. v. Oki Data Americas, Inc., the federal district court found that there were sufficient contacts between the corporate chairperson and New Jersey, the forum state.  557 F. Supp. 2d 494, 500 (D.N.J. 2008).  The court specifically made this finding “even though many of those contacts were made by Chamales in his role as an officer of [the corporation].”  Id.  Applying New Jersey law, the court reasoned “that actions taken by an individual within New Jersey in his ‘corporate capacity’ may be imputed to a defendant corporate officer individually.”  Id.  The individual counterclaim defendant was the sole owner of one corporation and 85% owner of another, and “was directly involved with the negotiations” of the agreements at issue, such that it was proper to find personal jurisdiction over him.  Id. at 500-01. 

Moreover, as shown in the case of Government of the Virgin Islands v. Lansdale, 172 F. Supp. 2d 636, 645 (D.V.I. 2001), the fact that an individual defendant allegedly conducted personal activities in the forum, using the corporate form as a shield, the court may pierce the corporate veil in order to exercise personal jurisdiction over the individual defendant.  In Lansdale, the District Court of the Virgin Islands found that the plaintiff showed by at least clear and convincing evidence that the individual defendants “used their corporations as mere shells and conduits for a single venture, and failed to maintain arms’ length relationships with their corporations.”  Id. at 645.  The exercise of […]

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