Legal Memorandum: Personam Jurisdiction over a Defendant

Issue: What does due process require when seeking to assert jurisdiction over a defendant under the Virgin Islands’ long-arm statute?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Jurisdiction over a defendant; Due process; Court's judicial powers
Jurisdiction: Federal, Virgin Islands
Cited Cases: 846 F. Supp. 1243; 882 F. Supp. 399
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 03/01/2008

The inquiry is whether the exercise of the court’s judicial powers over the defendant satisfies the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  “[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, No. CIV. 145/1996, 2001 V.I. LEXIS 40, 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.”  See Wright v. Xerox Corp., 882 F. Supp. 399, 404-405 (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 Harthman v. Texaco (in Re Tutu Wells Contamination Litig.), 846 […]

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