Legal Memorandum: Personal Jurisdiction over Non-resident Defendant

Issue: Does exercise of the Virgin Islands courts’ judicial powers over a non-resident defendant satisfy the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?

Area of Law: Constitutional Law, Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Personal jurisdiction over a defendant; Due process clause
Jurisdiction: Federal, Virgin Islands
Cited Cases: 326 U.S. 286; 557 F. Supp. 2d 494; 846 F. Supp. 1243
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 11/01/2008

“[T]he test for determining whether a court may exercise in personam jurisdiction over a defendant is whether said defendant has sufficient minimum contacts with the forum such that ‘the maintenance of the suit does not offend “traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.”‘”  Citibank, N.A. v. Chammah, 44 V.I. 85 (V.I. Terr. Ct. 2001) (quoting Int’l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 286, 292 (1980)).  This test is applied by balancing (1) “‘the forum’s interest in adjudicating the dispute'”; (2) “‘the plaintiff’s interest in obtaining relief at the particular forum'”; (3) “‘the relevant contacts the defendant has with the forum, measured against the burden of the defendant in defending in that forum.'”  Id. (quoting Godfrey v. Int’l Moving Consultants, Inc., 18 V.I. 60, 69 (D.V.I. 1980)).  “There is sufficient due process contact for personal jurisdiction if the defendant purposefully has directed his activities at residents of the forum.”  Wright v. Xerox Corp., 882 F. Supp. 399, 404-05 (D.N.J. 1995) (where the defendant had authority within the scope of employment to intentionally harm the plaintiff, and “the brunt of the injury” was felt in the forum, the defendant is subject to jurisdiction in the forum).  See In re Tutu Wells Contamination Litigation, 846 F. Supp. 1243, 1267 (D.V.I. 1993) (the nonresident defendant’s contacts with the Virgin Islands were sufficient to satisfy due process).

Personal jurisdiction may be general or specific.  When the plaintiff’s claim arises from the defendant’s contacts with the forum state, specific […]

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