Q: What’s the difference between Specific Jurisdiction and Long Arm jurisdiction?
A: Specific Jurisdiction is a basis for Asserting Long Arm Jurisdiction
A student asked in response to the video on the right, what is the difference between long-arm jurisdiction and specific jurisdiction? The short answer is that that specific jurisdiction is a basis for a court to assert long-arm jurisdiction – – a basis for a court to assert personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state defendant. A court can’t assert personal jurisdiction over an out-of state defendant for no reason. And specific jurisdiction is a basis for the state to assert such jurisdiction.
Background: Long-Arm Jurisdiction is when a State Asserts Personal Jurisdiction over an Out-of-State Defendant
Let’s say Perry wants to sue David. Perry lives in New York. David lives in New Jersey. For Perry to sue David in New York, New York will need to assert long-arm personal jurisdiction over David. You can think of this as the “long arm” of the law reaching out from New York into New Jersey, picking up David, and requiring him to defend himself in a New York court.
But a Court Can’t Assert Long Arm Personal Jurisdiction over the Out-of-State Defendant without a Basis, and Specific Jurisdiction is One Basis
The Supreme Court of the United States has established that there are limited circumstances when a court in one state can assert personal jurisdiction over a defendant in another state.
One such basis could be consent. For example, if a defendant says, “I don’t mind being sued in a different state”, then no problem. The out-of-state defendant has agreed to personal jurisdiction in another state and the case can proceed.
More commonly though, personal jurisdiction over the out-of-state defendant arises out of specific jurisdiction. Specific jurisdiction is where the defendant has sufficient contact with the forum state (the state where the court is located) and the lawsuit arises out of that contact.
For example, let’s say David drives from New Jersey to New York and causes a car accident in New York that injures Perry. By entering New York and causing an injury in New York, David has had sufficient contact with New York such that New York can assert personal jurisdiction over him. That is, plaintiff Perry will now be able to sue David in New York, and a New York court will be able to assert long-arm jurisdiction over David. Why? The basis for this jurisdiction is specific jurisdiction. David allegedly caused an accident in New York and the lawsuit arises out of that accident.
- Courts can sometimes assert personal jurisdiction over out-of-state defendants. This is known as long-arm jurisdiction.
- Courts need a basis to assert long-arm jurisdiction over the out-of-state defendant.
- Specific jurisdiction is one such basis, where the defendant has sufficient contact with the forum state (the state where the court is located) and the lawsuit arises out of that contact.