Hawaii Jurisdiction

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If you have been sued in Hawaii, a Hawaii court must dismiss the case against you unless it has "jurisdiction" over you. According to the United States Supreme Court, "due process requires that a nonresident defendant have minimum contacts with the forum state so that the exercise of personal jurisdiction does not offend" traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.” International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945). The court may exercise either general or specific jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant depending upon the nature of the contacts between the defendant and the forum state. Helicopteros Nacionales doe Colombia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 414 n. 9 (1984).

Hawaii Courts lack jurisdiction over an out of state resident unless the Hawaii plaintiff establishes that the out of state resident made sufficient contact with the State of Hawaii. If enough contact is made by the Defendant within the State, the court may invoke long arm jurisdiction. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 634-35.

The burden is on Plaintiff to establish jurisdiction. There are two types of personal jurisdiction: General and specific.

Assuming arguendo that Hawaii even accepts the doctrine of “general jurisdiction,” such jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant exists only if the nonresident’s activities within the State of Hawaii are “systematic and continuous.” In the Interest of Doe, 83 Haw. 367, 374 (1996); Data Disc, Inc. v. Systems Technology Assoc., Inc., 557 F.2d 1280, 1287 (9 th Cir. 1977); Peterson v. Kennedy, 771 F.2d 1244, 1261 (9 th Cir. 1985), cert. denied, 475 U.S. 112 (1986); Rano v. Sipa Press, Inc., 987 F.2d 580. 587-88 (9 th Cir. 1993).

Where the nonresident’s activities within the State are not “systematic and continuous” then a court may not exercise jurisdiction unless it finds specific jurisdiction. Doe, 83 Haw. at 374. Specific jurisdiction is limited to those specific causes of action, if any, which are demonstrably related to the nonresident’s forum-related conduct. Rano, 987 F.2d at 588. On a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, the Plaintiff bears the burden of establishing jurisdiction. Id.

It is doubtful that Hawaii even recognizes a theory of general jurisdiction.” See Haw. Rev. Stat. §634-35 (c), Hashiro v. General Electric Col., 56 F.3d 71, 1995 WL 295315 at 1-2, (9 th Cir. May 15, 1995) (Unpublished disposition) (affirming decision of the Honorable David A. Ezra dismissing case for lack of personal jurisdiction). Assuming arguendo Hawaii does accept the notion of general jurisdiction, Plaintiff must show that “the nonresident’s contacts with the forum are continuous and systematic, and the exercise of jurisdiction satisfies traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.” Doe, 83 Haw. at 374; Ziegler, 64 F.3d at 473.

According to the Hawaii Supreme Court in Doe, “If Defendant’s contacts with [ Hawaii] are not “continuous and systematic,” [ Hawaii] may exercise only specific jurisdiction, and due process requires application of the following three part test:

The nonresident defendant must:

  • Purposefully direct his activities or consummate some transaction with the forum or resident thereof; or
  • Pperform some act by which he purposefully avails himself of the privilege of conducting activities in the forum, thereby invoking the benefits and protections of its laws;
  • The claim must be one which arises out of or relates to the defendant’s forum-related activities; and
  • The exercise of jurisdiction must comport with fair play and substantial justice, i.e. it must be reasonable.

Doe, 83 Haw. at 374.

“Even if the first two prongs are satisfied, which they are not, an unreasonable exercise of jurisdiction violates the Due Process Clause.” Ziegler, 64 F.3d at 474-75. The Court must look to the following seven factors to determine whether the exercise of jurisdiction was reasonable:

(i) the extent of the defendant’s purposeful injection into the forum;

(ii) the defendant’s burdens from litigating in the forum;

(iii) the extent of conflict with the sovereignty of the defendant’s state;

(iv) the forum state’s interest in adjudicating the dispute;

  • the most efficient judicial resolution of the controversy;
  • the importance of the forum to the plaintiff’s interest in convenient and effective relief; and
  • the existence of an alternative forum.


All factors must be weighed and none alone is dispositive. Id.

The Law Offices of Philip R. Brown is committed to providing the highest quality legal representation of Plaintiffs and Defendants in commercial litigation and personal injury matters. Because of our legal experience we have been honored to serve as Hawaii attorney for some of the state's most well known citizens and businesses. However, we take great pride in the fact that we strive to treat all of our clients with the same courtesy and respect. We understand that even the most modest cases are still the most important legal matters that you may ever be involved in. We are also very proud of the fact that as a full service Hawaii law firm, we have recovered millions of dollars for our clients.

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