Problem Set #15 Venue Yeazell




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Civil Procedure Maranville
Problem Set #15

Venue

Yeazell, p. 165
Facts: Peggy sues Douglas, a resident of the Southern District of New York, on a claim of breach of contract. The contract called for the manufacture and delivery of a machine. The machine was designed in New Mexico and assembled in the Northern District of Illinois from parts made in Ohio, California, and Pennsylvania. Peggy claims the machine doesn’t work properly.
Q1. Where will venue certainly lie? Please explain.
A. Rule: Under § 1391(a)(1) venue in a case “founded only on diversity of citizenship” will lie in “a judicial district where any defendant resides, if all defendants reside in the same State.

Application: Because this is a breach of contract claim, and does not involve a federal question, jurisdiction will be based only on diversity of citizenship under §1332(a)(1). Douglas is the only defendant and Douglas resides in the S.D. of N.Y.

Conclusion: Douglas can certainly be sued in the southern district of New York.
Q2. What additional information would one need to decide whether there were other available venues? Please explain.
A. Rule: Under § 1391(a)(2) venue will also lie “in a judicial district in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred.”

Application: In order to decide where “a substantial part of the events . . . giving rise to the claim occurred” we would need to know more about the claim. Is the machine defective due to its design? Due to defective parts? Due to defective assembly? If the design of the machine involved a substantial technical or similar problem, the site of the design (New Mexico) would qualify under the “substantial part of the events” test. The place of manufacture of a particularly important component part might equally work; depending on how important those components were to the overall product, or to the particular claim of breach of contract. Similarly,

Conclusion: To discover what whether New Mexico, Ohio, California, or Illinois venues might be available under (a)(2), we would need more information about the substantive breach of contract claim.

Yeazell: A point worth noting is that (a)(2) and (3) will often create the possibility of threshold litigation that begins to approach the merits. This happens because the drafters wanted to create venue wherever significant events took place (an understandable goal), but to decide which events are significant, one has to have a dry run on the merits.


Facts: Peggy sues Alan, a resident of the Southern District of New York, and Bart, who resides in New Jersey but conducts his business from an office in the Southern District of New York, on a claim of breach of contract. The contract called for the manufacture and delivery of a machine in Japan, from parts made in Mexico.
Q3. Where will venue lie? Please explain.
A. Rule: Under §1391(a) venue in a case “founded only on diversity of citizenship” will lie in (1) “a judicial district where any defendant resides, if all defendants reside in the same State”, or (2) “a district in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred” or (3) “a judicial district in which any defendant is subject to personal jurisdiction at the time the action is .commenced, if there is no district in which the action may otherwise be brought”.

Application: Because this is a breach of contract claim, and does not involve a federal question, jurisdiction will be based only on diversity of citizenship under §1332(a)(1). But now there are two defendants. Alan and Bart reside in different states, so (a)(1) does not apply. Nor does a(2) apply, since most of the “substantial” events occurred outside the U.S. So (a)(3) becomes the fallback. Under it, venue will lie in any district where either Alan or Bart is subject to personal jurisdiction. Both Alan and Bart appear to be subject to personal jurisdiction in the Southern District of New York. Alan resides there, and Bart has his office there, which is presumably relevant to the transaction at hand. Bart is also subject to personal jurisdiction in New Jersey because he resides there.

Conclusion: Venue will lie either in the S.D.N.Y. or in N.J.
Q4. Carl, a Canadian citizen, wishes to sue Drake, a resident of the Eastern District of California, alleging personal injury damages arising from an automobile accident in Nevada. Where will venue lie? Please explain.
A. Rule: Under §1391(a) venue in a case “founded only on diversity of citizenship” (here under §1332(a)(2)) will lie in (1) “a judicial district where any defendant resides, if all defendants reside in the same State”, or (2) “a district in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred”.

Application: The defendant, Drake, resides in the E.D. of Calif. and the events giving rise to the claim, the accident, took place in Nevada.

Conclusion: Venue will lie either in Nevada (a)(2) or in the Eastern District of California (a)(1).
Q5. Deb, a resident of the Eastern District of California, wishes to sue Colette, a Canadian citizen, alleging personal injury damages arising from an automobile accident in Nevada. Where will venue lie? Please explain.
A. Rule: Under § 1391(d)an “an alien may be sued in any district” as far as venue rules are concerned.

Application: The defendant Colette is a Canadian citizen, i.e. an alien.

Conclusion: Venue will lie in any district: § 1391(d).
Q6. Before deciding that §1391(d) is extremely harsh on aliens, consider how doctrines of personal jurisdiction will limit its application. In Problem 7, venue will lie in any judicial district in the United States; assuming that Colette is a tourist who has since returned to Canada where will personal jurisdiction lie?
A. Rule: A state has personal jurisdiction over defendants who have “minimum contacts” with the state.

Application: Colette has minimum contacts with Nevada at least for the purpose of specific jurisdiction over a lawsuit arising out of the automobile accident.



Conclusion: On these facts personal jurisdiction will lie only in Nevada, where the accident occurred, surely not a surprising or upsetting situation.


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