Lawsuit jurisdiction?

I’m going to be vague on the details of this, on purpose. In May, my wife was involved in a traffic accident, and we believe that we have a liability case to pursue.

This question involves jurisdiction of state courts. We live in NC, the accident happened in VA. Do we look for attorneys and a judge in VA or NC?

Where does the party you want to sue live? I am not a litigator, but, if memory serves me correctly, you could sue the defendant where they reside or where the accident occurred. Your home state, though, is not a viable option.

Talked to an attorney. NC is the answer…

BTW, the other party is from Michigan.

Are you positive about that answer? I’m not your lawyer, but I’m not totally sure how North Carolina would have personal jurisdiction over the other guy.

I would get a second opinion on that. I don’t know VA law, but where I’m from that case would be in 1) the county and state where the accident was–the state would have “long-arm” jurisdiction on the defendant, or 2) in the home state of the defendant–BUT #1 would be the best venue because that’s where the cops and witnesses are.

And use an attorney from the county (or circuit) where the case will be tried–he/she knows the judge, the local juries etc.

Not legal advice–just an observation.

The attorney in question has been admitted to the bar in both NC and VA, and routinely handles cases that cross the line.

I’m sort of with you. The state where the case is brought must have some power over the Defendent. Are there other facts? Is the other guy a part-time resident of NC? Is his car registered to NC?

Being vague on purpose, but the defendant is not a person. Product liability, to be a little clearer.

Given the facts you relate, it’s hard to see how the North Carolina courts would have jurisdiction. It’s been a while since I aced Civ Pro, and my brain cells are fuzzy in the interim, and I’ve lost a ton of them in the meantime (thank-YOU, Woodchuck cider! :eek: ) and the law I handled never really forced me to do the jurisdictional thing much, but I have this vivid memory of opening my Civ Pro casebook and seeing there on page one International Shoe v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310 (1945), in which the supremes declared that a defendant in a law suit can’t be subjected to *in personam * jurisdiction without minimal contacts with the state asserting the jurisdiction.

So unless the driver of the other car has some contact with North Carolina that would give North Carolina reason to be able to assert jurisdiction in the case, a suit in North Carolina would be jurisdictionally barred, I would think.

Mind you, I’m not your attorney, I’m not offering you any legal advice, either about your specific case or about any case in general, I’m just pontificating to hear myself talk. :smiley:

And on edit, since you have totally obfuscated the facts in your initial post, and are talking some sort of product liability case (presumably against the maker of the car or some piece of equipment in the car), all I’ve said has little value.

You do know that, if you are unwilling to offer up facts upon which intelligent conversation can be based, you shouldn’t expect worthwhile answers here? :dubious:

AH! I know you’re trying to keep the details under wraps but unfortunately some details are REALLY important. :slight_smile:

If the suit is against a manufacturer who knowingly puts its items into the stream of commerce throughout the nation, you can sue 'em where you find 'em. :slight_smile: The seminal case is World Wide Volkswagon Corp. v. Woodson.


I realize that. At the same time I don’t want to ruin the case because I blasted the details all over the SDMB.

Jeez, I thought was asking for a quick and dirty answer to an easy question.

LOL! Jurisdiction is one of the least easy questions in the law when you talk about it in theory. The question of whether or not a particular state has power to judge a particular defendent is a complex one which goes to the heart of the Federalist system in the US.

As you can see from the responses, the conclusion that is drawn is highly fact specific. Without the facts, there are so many possibilities… from only the facts you gave us, your lawyer’s conclusion seemed flat-out wrong to several lawyers (and law students) on the board.

To obtain personal jursdiction over a person (including a legal person like a corporation), the court must have either general jurisdiction over the person or specific jurisdiction over the person arising from the transaction or occurrence sued over.

Normally, you can get specific jurisdiction over any person actually involved in a traffic accident in the jurisdiction where the accident occurred. You may also be able to get jurisdiction over the manufacturers of product alleged to be defective if those manufacturers put their products into the stream of commerce and reasonably foresaw that they would be used in that jurisdiction.

However, if you want to sue in another jurisdiction, you may be able to do so under general jurisdiction. For a natural person, you most likely will be able to get jurisdiction over him or her in the state of his or her domicile, his or her regular and permanent place of residence. For a corporate entity, the rules are more complex and dependent on state law, but if the company maintains a regular corporate presence in a particular state, they may be subject to the general jurisdiction of the courts of that state.

Obviously, the specifics will control, but if a national corporation has a significant presence in a particular state, it can be subject to general jurisdiction there. For more specifics, please see your own laywer, who can assess the details of the case and applicable law.

Does it make a difference if the liability involves a product you used yourself or if it involves a product used by a second party. Such as you being hurt by a defective tire on the car you are driving, as opposed to you being hit by a car due to a defect in that car’s tire? :confused: