If you reside in New Jersey and suffer damages from the conduct of a foreign, non-resident defendant, this may interest you.
The Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause to the Constitution permits a court to exercise personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant under some circumstances. That means that a New Jersey resident who has claims against a foreign defendant may sue here and require the defendant to answer for his conduct here.
There are limitations, and these limitations have been the subject of many, many reported decisions in both the federal and state courts for many years.
Suffice it to say, many of the decisions are fact-sensitive, that is, the decision to exercise jurisdiction depends on the nature of the defendants conduct.
In Nicastro v. McIntyre Machinery America, Ltd., 201 N.J. 48 (2010), defendant manufactured metal recycling machines in England, which were shipped to an independent exclusive distributor in Ohio. The products were then resold nationwide. A New Jersey company purchased a machine from the distributor after attending a trade show in Las Vegas. Later, one of the New Jersey companys employees suffered personal injuries in using the machine, allegedly because of safety defects.
The defendant conducted no activity itself in New Jersey and had no direct contacts with New Jersey.
YOU BE THE JUDGE: Is it constitutionally permissible to exercise personal jurisdiction in New Jersey over a defendant with no workforce, no offices, and no direct activity here?
The Supreme Court found that in a product liability action for personal injuries,New Jersey may exercise personal jurisdiction. A manufacturer that knows, or reasonably should know, that its products are distributed nationally, must expect to be subject to New Jersey jurisdiction if one of its products is sold here and causes injury. The use of a middleman was not a shield for the manufacturer because the focus is not the manufacturers control of the distribution scheme, but its knowledge that the scheme yielded economic benefits from this State. To avoid the exercise of such jurisdiction, the manufacturer must take reasonable steps to prevent the distribution of its products in New Jersey.
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