Court Discusses Jurisdiction Under the Massachusetts Long-Arm Statute

The law affords injured individuals the right to pursue claims against the person or entity that caused their harm, in a jurisdiction of their choosing. While in many cases a plaintiff’s jurisdictional choice will remain undisturbed, a plaintiff does not have an absolute right to dictate where an action will be heard. Rather, in cases where the defendant argues that jurisdiction is improper, the plaintiff must establish that the court can validly exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant. Recently that United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts analyzed whether jurisdiction over an out of state defendant was proper under the Massachusetts long-arm statute, in a case in which the defendant was an out of state corporation. If you were injured by a company that is based in another state, you should consult a seasoned Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss the appropriate manner in which to pursue damages for your harm.

Facts of the Accident

It is alleged that the plaintiff, who is a resident of Massachusetts, was vacationing in Florida, at a resort owned by the defendant, when she was injured in a scooter accident. The defendant does not own or lease any property in Massachusetts or have any offices or employees in Massachusetts and is not registered as a foreign corporation in Massachusetts. The plaintiff then filed a lawsuit against the defendant in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The defendant moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint, arguing the court lacked personal jurisdiction over the defendant. The court granted the defendant’s motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

Massachusetts Long-Arm Statute

The Massachusetts long-arm statute, Mass. Gen. L. c. 223A, § 3, permits a court to exercise personal jurisdiction over a person or company who directly or indirectly conducts business in Massachusetts if the alleged cause of action arises out of the business conducted in Massachusetts. The first prong of the long-arm statute can be met by showing the defendant engaged in the purposeful solicitation of business from the residents of Massachusetts, while the second prong requires a plaintiff to show that “but for” such solicitation, she or he would not have suffered harm.

In the subject case, the court noted that while it had previously exercised jurisdiction over the defendant in similar cases, the plaintiff in the subject case did not set forth sufficient facts regarding the defendant’s business transactions in Massachusetts to show that she would not have been injured but for said transactions. Further, the court noted that even if the long-arm statute applied, the plaintiff did not allege sufficient facts to show that the exercise of personal jurisdiction over the defendant was constitutional. Thus, the court affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff’s complaint.

Consult an Experienced Massachusetts Personal Injury Attorney Regarding Your Case

If you suffered injuries that were caused by an out of state defendant, you should consult an experienced Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss your case and your options for pursuing compensation. The skilled personal injury attorneys of the Law Office of James K. Meehan will work diligently to help you seek any damages you may be legally permitted to recover for your harm. You can reach us at 508-822-6600 or through our online form to schedule a confidential and free meeting to discuss your case.