Walden v. Fiore

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Procedure
  • Date Filed: March 4, 2013
  • Case #: 12-574
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Court Below: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 688 F.3d 558 (2012)
  • Full Text Opinion

(1) Whether knowledge that Plaintiff has connections to the forum State constitute “express aiming” for specific personal jurisdiction; and (2) whether venue is established under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2) when the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred in a judicial district other than the forum state.

Respondents were flying from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Las Vegas, Nevada with a stop in Atlanta, Georgia carrying $97,000 cash in legal gambling winnings. TSA screening and DEA agents in San Juan questioned respondents about their cash and the DEA officers informed respondents they would be questioned further in Atlanta. Upon arrival in Atlanta, Petitioner, a DEA officer, seized the funds because he suspected involvement in drug transactions and later filed an affidavit for forfeiture proceedings. The funds were returned to Respondents six months later after a U.S. Attorney determined Petitioner's affidavit was misleading.

Respondents brought a Bivens action in the District Court of Nevada against Petitioner and unnamed agents in their individual capacities for violations of Respondents’ Fourth Amendment rights. The trial court granted Petitioner’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.

The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reviewed de novo and overturned the trial court. Applying the test in Schwarzenegger v. Fred Martin Motor Co., 374 F.3d 797 (CA9 2004), the court found specific personal jurisdiction over the non-resident tort defendant because: (1) he purposefully directed his activities at the forum residents according to Calder v. Jones, 465 U.S. 783 (1984); (2) the forum-related conduct factor is satisfied under a “but for” test; and (3) Nevada was a reasonable forum. Finally, the court concluded Nevada was a proper venue under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2) because the locus of the injury is a relevant factor and the harms were suffered in Nevada.

On appeal, Petitioner argues that the Ninth Circuit misapplied the second prong of the Calder-effects test because intentional acts taken with knowledge that Respondent has connections to the forum do not constitute “express aiming.” Also, Petitioner argues the venue is improper because the events that gave rise to the claim under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2) all occurred outside of the forum.

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