Before you may take your case to the court you have to see if the court has the power to resolve your case or not.
The federal and state laws restrict the court’s jurisdiction and power to take up or pass verdict on specific cases. To make the decision valid, a court must follow the rules promulgated by the federal and state governments under two different types of jurisdictions: subject matter jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction.
Subject matter jurisdiction allows a court to take up a case and make a decision according to the lawsuit requirements. Whereas, personal jurisdiction refers to the power of the court to make a decision regarding the party (businessman, organization) being sued in the case.
In today’s post, we will provide a detailed account on how a court, through personal jurisdiction, makes a decision after taking up a case.
Personal jurisdiction and its types
There are primarily four types of personal jurisdictions including:
In case, you file the lawsuit against a defendant in his absence, the time when the defendant enters the state, no matter for what reason, you can serve the defendant with the court summons or complaints against him. That means that even if the defendant passes through the state, and is served the notice, he can be sued in the court. Remember, to sue the defendant, he should be physically present in the state.
Place of work/domicile
In this case, owning a local domicile or an established business in a particular state is enough to give the power to the court to hear the lawsuits against you. It also applies to the case, where the incident has occurred in another country (with you being at-fault), and you have established your residence or business in another place, state courts of that country where you live have the right to sue you.
There are two types of consent: implied and expressed. Express consent can be given when you submit and voluntarily appear before the court to hear the case. By submitting yourself to the court you are allowing the court to have jurisdiction over you, thus the court can now take up the case filed against you.
In some cases, the consent may be implied too. For example, if you don’t live in the state but you have violated the traffic rules, then despite the state court doesn’t hold jurisdiction over you (as you are a non-resident), you must abide by the traffic rules within the state. On account of violating the traffic rules, the courts consider you to have given implied consent to the laws regulating the roads, thus the court holds personal jurisdiction over you.
A court would have personal jurisdiction over you if you have maintained a certain ‘minimum contacts’ with the state where the court sits. It means that a court can decide that you have made certain interactions with your contacts that are enough to justify that the court has personal jurisdiction over you.
For instance, assume that you want to sue a non-resident product manufacturer in your state for your claims against the warehouse in your state. If your claims relate to the products you get from the warehouse, then the court may allow your case to proceed.
But if your claims go against the manufacturer that has no concern with the warehouse, then the court may conclude the case based on minimum contacts or also dismiss the case on the request of the defendant.
Personal jurisdiction based on party ownership – In Rem jurisdiction
You can also have jurisdiction on a defendant who has an established business or residents in your state and also lives in your state. But state jurisdiction gets limited when the property owner does not live in the same state where he owns the property or business.
In this scenario, state jurisdiction limit in two different ways:
- Jurisdiction extends only up to the fair market value of the property or business the defendant owns. For example, if your claims are against a non-citizen, who runs the business or has an apartment worth $400,000, the maximum of your lawsuit judgment will be worth $400,000
- Additionally, your claim must possibly relate to the property. This means if your claim fell over the apartment of a non-residential owner, then you might get jurisdiction over the apartment and the owner. But if the lawsuit claims fall entirely in a different domain then you may not get the jurisdiction upon a non-resident defendant
Personal and subject matter jurisdictions enable the court to uphold and ensure justice and fairness across the country. A defect in any kind of lawsuit or complaint may nullify the power of the judiciary to make a decision. For personal jurisdiction, it is important for the defendant to be physically present in the state for the court to serve the defendant with summons. These summonses cannot extend beyond the state boundaries.
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