Category: Civil Procedure

When do states have personal jurisdiction over out-of-state insurance companies?

I received an email about personal jurisdiction over out-of-state insurance companies where the plaintiff was injured in an automobile accident.¹ As a general rule, if the court has personal jurisdiction over the defendant driver in an automobile accident and the insurance company insured the defendant driver, personal jurisdiction over the insurance company is usually not a problem     The idea is that the insurance company is tied to the defendant.  So if the defendant is subject to personal jurisdiction the court can assert personal jurisdiction over the defendant’s insurance company even if the insurance company does not have any business with the forum state. More complicated questions arise where a plaintiff sues an insurance company for failing to provide coverage following an incident, such as a fire.  In those cases, a court is not going to be able to assert personal jurisdiction simply because the insurance company is tied to a defendant.  The court will likely follow a traditional analysis to determine whether there is personal jurisdiction:  did the insurance company have sufficient contacts with the forum state and is the lawsuit related to those contacts? ¹ Actually she asked about venue but I think she meant personal jurisdiction.  If I’m wrong, please let me...

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Introduction to Federal & State Court Systems Part II: Jurisdiction

Jurisdiction Choosing Federal or State Court Go To Diversity Jurisdiction Go to Federal Question Jurisdiction Selecting a Court in Civil Cases When starting a lawsuit, the plaintiff in the United States must make a choice whether to sue in federal or state court.   In many instances the choice will be made for him.  Because federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, federal courts can only hear certain types of cases. As a general rule, federal courts have jurisdiction to hear cases between parties from different states (diversity jurisdiction) and cases arising from a federal law or the Constitution (federal question...

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Introduction to Federal and State Court Systems: Part I

Introduction to Federal & State Court Systems Take me to the video Federal and State Courts in the United States Because of federalism, which provides power to both the federal and state governments, there are federal and state court systems in the United States.  For example, if you took a walk in New York City you could see federal and state courts in lower Manhattan standing side-by-side.  But although these courts may be geographically close to each other, state courts and federal courts are separate and independent.  This short introduction will help you understand both court systems.     e>...

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What is a motion to dismiss?

A motion to dismiss is where a defendant (or a plaintiff who is being sued in a counterclaim), moves the court to “throw out” all or part of the case against the defendant. Motions to dismiss usually come in the early stages of a civil litigation.  Rule 12 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that certain affirmative defenses in federal civil cases can be brought as motions to dismiss.  States have similar rules. The idea behind a motion to dismiss is that there is something faulty in the plaintiff’s case that should prevent the case from continuing. For example, let’s say a plaintiff sues a defendant in federal court for committing fraud.  And the complaint only describes the fraud in very general terms.   However, Rule 9 requires the plaintiff to allege the circumstances of the fraud with specificity.  Under these circumstances, the defendant could move the court to dismiss the claim for failure to state a claim. Courts often dismiss a claim or case without prejudice.  When a court dismisses a case without prejudice, the plaintiff will have an opportunity to fix whatever problem caused the court to dismiss the case.  In our example above, the court might allow the plaintiff an opportunity to add more facts to her fraud complaint to meet the requirements of Rule 9.  ...

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