Massachusetts Court Discusses Jurisdiction Over Foreign Defendants

People rarely anticipate that they will sustain injuries while they are on vacation, but slip and fall accidents and other harmful events commonly occur at hotels and resorts. Parties injured in such incidents often choose to seek compensation from the property owners via civil claims. In cases in which the accident occurred in a foreign location, the claims will typically be filed in federal court, but in many instances, the defendant will argue such claims should be dismissed due to lack of jurisdiction. This was illustrated in a recent Massachusetts ruling in which the court discussed the exercise of personal jurisdiction in a matter arising out of an accident in St. Lucia. If you suffered harm due to a slip and fall accident, it is in your best interest to meet with an experienced Cape Cod premises liability attorney about your options.

The Plaintiff’s Claims

It is reported that the plaintiff, who is a Massachusetts resident, was a guest at the defendant resort when she slipped and fell in the area near the hot tub. She suffered serious injuries in the fall and subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendant in the Massachusetts District court, asserting negligence claims. The defendant moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims for lack of personal jurisdiction, while the plaintiff argued she was entitled to jurisdictional discovery prior to her claims being dismissed. The court ultimately ruled in favor of the plaintiff and denied the defendant’s motion.

Jurisdiction Over Out of State Defendants

Personal jurisdiction is the court’s power to compel a party to abide by its orders. In cases involving diversity of citizenship, a court must determine whether its exercise of personal jurisdiction over a defendant complies with both the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and the state’s long-arm statute.

Further, it is well-established that Massachusetts’ long-arm statute imposes requirements that are not coextensive with the Due Process Clause. Thus, a party must show that the court’s exercise of personal jurisdiction comports with both state and federal requirements. The state long-arm statute states that a court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a person, which includes a business or entity who, either directly or through an agent, engaged in business transactions within the commonwealth if the cause of action against the person arises from such transactions.

The long-arm statute is construed broadly in favor of personal jurisdiction. The court further explained that “arising from” has been interpreted to mean that the harm would not have occurred but for the defendant’s actions. In the subject case, the court found that the plaintiff adequately alleged facts that would allow it to exercise general personal jurisdiction over the matter. Thus, the court denied the defendant’s motion, and allowed the plaintiff to conduct discovery to determine if specific personal jurisdiction was proper.

Meet with a Capable Cape Cod Attorney

Slip and fall accidents can cause serious injuries, and in many instances, they arise out of a property owner’s negligent failure to maintain their premises in a safe condition. If you were hurt in a slip and fall accident, you should meet with an attorney to discuss your rights. The capable Cape Cod premises liability attorneys of The Law Offices of John C. Manoog, III can assess the circumstances surrounding your harm and advise you of your potential claims. You can contact us via the form online or at 888-262-6664 to set up a meeting.


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