- Can a court exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant whose only contact with the forum state is his knowledge that the plaintiffs had contacts with the state?
- Is the district where a plaintiff suffered injury a proper venue if all of the alleged events giving rise to the claim were committed by the defendant in a different district?
In August 2006, Respondents Gina Fiore and Keith Gipson returned from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to their home in Las Vegas after passing through Atlanta, Georgia. Fiore and Gipson are professional gamblers and had traveled to San Juan to legally gamble. Upon arriving in Atlanta, Fiore and Gipson were detained by Petitioner, DEA agent Anthony Walden, who confiscated Fiore’s and Gipson’s winnings on suspicion that the money was tied to illegal drug activity. Fiore and Gipson sued Walden in Nevada for the return of the money. The district court dismissed the suit for lack of personal jurisdiction over Walden. The Ninth Circuit reversed, finding that the requirements of personal jurisdiction and proper venue had been satisfied. Walden argues that Nevada lacks personal jurisdiction over him because he has no contacts with the state—besides his knowledge that Fiore and Gipson reside there—and because it would be unfair to subject a defendant to a forum based on a plaintiff’s residence that is different from the forum where the actions giving rise to the claim occurred. Fiore and Gipson respond that Walden intentionally directed his actions toward residents of Nevada, thereby harming Nevada residents, making Nevada a proper state to exercise personal jurisdiction. The Supreme Court will decide whether a court can exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant whose only contact with the forum state is his knowledge that the plaintiffs reside there. The outcome will address a basic question about how far courts can extend their jurisdiction, and thereby impact a threshold issue in any lawsuit: where plaintiffs can sue.
- Whether due process permits a court to exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant whose sole “contact” with the forum State is his knowledge that the plaintiff has connections to that State.
- Whether the judicial district where the plaintiff suffered injury is a district “in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred” for purposes of establishing venue under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2) even if the defendant's alleged acts and omissions all occurred in another district.
Respondents Gina Fiore and Keith Gipson arrived at the San Juan airport with $97,000 in cash gambling winnings in their carry-on bags. See Fiore v. Walden, 657 F.3d 838, 842 (9th Cir. 2012). Fiore and Gipson are professional gamblers and were returning from San Juan to their home in Las Vegas.
- Grant J. Esposito & Brian R. Matsui, JDSupra, The Supreme Court Again Revisits (And May Rein In) Personal Jurisdiction (April 29, 2013).
- Louisiana Law Review, Fiore v. Walden: The Ninth Circuit’s Apparent Expansion of Personal Jurisdiction’s Minimum Contacts Requirement (March 4, 2013).