Personal Jurisdiction Over Nonresidents in Hawaii

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We are frequently contacted by potential clients outside Hawaii who are curious if they can be sued in Hawaii. Whether or not you can be sued in Hawaii depends on “Personal Jurisdiction.”

The Plaintiff has the burden of establishing personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant. Ziegler v Indian River Country, 64 F.3d 470, 473 (9th Cir., 1995) However, “the Plaintiff need only make a prima facie showing of jurisdictional facts” to avoid dismissal. Schwarzenegger v Ford Motor Co., 374 F.3d 797, 800 (9th Cir., 2004). If Plaintiff is successful in making a prima facie showing on the motion to dismiss, Plaintiff “must eventually establish jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence either at a pretrial evidentiary hearing or at trial.” Hi-Pac. Ltd. v Avoset Corp., 980 F.Supp. 1134, 1137 (D.Haw., 1997).
“In determining whether [the plaintiff] has met this burden, uncontroverted allegations in [the] complaint must be taken as true, and ‘conflicts between the facts contained in the parties’ affidavits must be resolved in [the plaintiff’s] favor for purposes of deciding whether a prima facie case for personal jurisdiction exists.” AT&T; Co. v Compagnie Bruxelles Lambert, 94 F.3d 586, 588 (9th Cir., 1996)( quoting WNS Inc. v Farrow, 884 F.2d 200, 203 (5th Cir., 1989).

“To subject a nonresident defendant to suit, both the long-arm statute of the state in which the Court sits and constitutional due process requirements must be satisfiedTelevision Events & Marketing, Inc. v Amcon Distributing Co., 416 F. Supp.2d 948, 956-957 (D.Haw., 2006). “Because Hawaii’s long-arm statute reaches to the full extent permitted by the Constitution, the Court need only determine whether due process permits the exercise of personal jurisdiction.” Id. (citing Schwarzenegger, 374 F.3d at 800-801. “The Due Process Clause protects an individual’s liberty interest in not being subject to the binding judgments of a forum with which he has established no meaningful contacts, ties, or relations.” Burger King Corp v Rodzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 471-472 (1985) In order to meet the due process requirement, the Court has to have “either general jurisdiction or specific jurisdiction” over the defendant. Doe v American National Red Cross, 112 F.3d 1048, 1050 (9th Cir., 1997); Robinson Corp v. Auto-Owners Ins. Co., 304 F. Supp.2d 1232, 1236 (D. Haw., 2003) (citation omitted).

General jurisdiction requires that defendant’s contact with the state be “continuous, systematic, and substantial.” Resnick v Rowe, 283 F.Supp.2d 1128, 1135 (D.Haw., 2003)(citing Helicopteros Nacionales de Columbia, S.A. v Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 414-416 (1984), Data Disc v Inc. v Sys. Tech. Assoc., Inc., 557 F.2d 1280, 1287 (9th Cir., 1977) In U.S. ex.rel. McCarthy v. Straub Clinic and Hosp. Inc., 140 F.Supp.2d 1062, 1702 (D.Hawaii, 2001), the United States District Judge, Honorable David Ezra, addressed the concepts of general and personal jurisdiction as follows:
A defendant’s contacts with a state must be such that it “should reasonably
anticipate being haled into court there.” Sher, 911 F.2d at 1361. This could
arise in one of two ways. First, if the defendant’s contacts with the state are
“substantial,” or “continuous and systematic,” the court may exercise general
jurisdiction over it, regardless of whether the *1072 contacts is related to the
cause of action. Id. Second, if (1) the defendant takes some action to purposely
“avail himself ” of the privilege of conducting activities in the forum, thereby
invoking the benefits and protections of the forum’s laws,” (2) the cause of
action arises out of the defendant’s contacts with the state, and (3) it would
be reasonable to do so, the court may exercise specific jurisdiction over the
.” Id. See also Sinatra v. National Inquirer, Inc., 854 F.2d 1191 (9th Cir.1988).