Massachusetts Court Discusses When Jurisdiction Over Out-of-State Companies Is Proper

In many instances in which a Massachusetts resident suffers harm due to the negligence of a company, the company’s principal place of business is located in another state. As such, if the person files a lawsuit against the company in a Massachusetts court, an issue will arise as to whether Massachusetts can exercise jurisdiction over the company. Recently, the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts analyzed when a court is permitted to exercised jurisdiction over a foreign company in a slip and fall case that was ultimately transferred to a Rhode Island Court. If you were injured in an accident due to the negligence of an out of state defendant, it is sensible to meet with a  knowledgeable Massachusetts personal injury attorney regarding your options for pursuing damages.

Facts Regarding the Plaintiff’s Injury

It is alleged that the plaintiff, a Massachusetts resident, traveled to a hotel owned and operated by the defendant in Rhode Island to stay overnight prior to a flight to Florida from a nearby airport. The next morning, the plaintiff tripped and fell while she was leaving her hotel. She subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendant in the Massachusetts Superior Court, alleging that the defendant’s negligence led to her fall and that the fall caused her to sustain severe injuries. The defendant removed the case to the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, after which the defendant filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that there was no basis for Massachusetts to exercise jurisdiction over the plaintiff.

Exercising Personal Jurisdiction Over a Foreign Entity

When a defendant files a motion to dismiss due to lack of personal jurisdiction, the burden is on the plaintiff to show that jurisdiction is proper. Thus, the court will review the evidence in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. The plaintiff cannot rely on unsupported averments, however, but must set forth sufficient facts to show that jurisdiction is proper.

The court stated that Massachusetts’ long-arm statute permits a court to exercise jurisdiction over any company that conducts business in the state if the plaintiff’s harm arises out of that business. Thus, for the court to exercise jurisdiction over the defendant in the subject case, the plaintiff was required to prove that the defendant conducted business in Massachusetts and that the plaintiff’s harm directly resulted from the defendant’s business transactions.

Upon review of the allegations in the plaintiff’s complaint, the court found that the exercise of personal jurisdiction over the defendant was not proper. Specifically, the plaintiff did not set forth any facts showing that the defendant regularly conducted business in Massachusetts. Thus, the court found that jurisdiction was improper and transferred the case to the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island.

Consult an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

If you sustained harm due to someone else’s negligence, you should consult an experienced Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss what you must prove to recover compensation. The skillful personal injury attorneys of the Law Office of James K. Meehan have the experience and knowledge needed to set forth a compelling case in favor of your recovery of the full amount of damages you may be owed. You can reach us at 508-822-6600 or through the form online to set up a meeting.