long-arm statute

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A long-arm statute is a statute that allows for a court to obtain personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state defendant on the basis of certain acts committed by an out-of-state defendant, provided that the defendant has a sufficient connection with the state.

When a court receives has jurisdiction due to a long-arm statute, the court is said to have long-arm jurisdiction.

Minimum Contacts

Typically a long-arm statute will grant a court jurisdiction over a non-resident if the resident has minimum contact within the court's jurisdiction.  

In International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310 (1945), the Supreme Court held that for a defendant to have minimum contacts, the defendant needs some combination of the two following factors:

  • Systematic and continuous activity within the forum jurisdiction
  • cause of action arising from that activity

In Asahi Metal Industry Co. v. Superior Court, 480 U.S. 102 (1987), the Supreme Court clarified that even when the defendant has a minimum contact, a court's asserting jurisdiction over the defendant may still be improper as it would be unfair to the defendant.

The Asahi court held that even when there is a minimum contact, the court still needs to consider certain consequences of asserting personal jurisdiction. These consequences include the burden on the defendant, the interests of the forum state in the action, the plaintiff's interest in having the forum state exercise jurisdiction, and overall efficiencies of having the forum state exercise jurisdiction.    

See also: Walker v. Macy's Merch. Grp., Inc. (2016) and State v. Vayu, Inc. (2023)

Further Reading

For more on long arm statutes, see this University of Florida Law Review article, this Cornell Law Review article and this National Law Review article

[Last updated in June of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]