New Case Update-Federal Jurisdiction When Maryland Contact Insignificant


Paul v. Delaware Landscape Constr., LLC, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 174077 (D. Md. Dec. 7, 2012).

This case arose from an automobile accident between the Plaintiff and the Defendants Delaware Landscape Construction, LLC (DLC) and Hertz Equipment Rental Corp. (Hertz). Defendants filed Motions to Dismiss the claims based on the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland's lack of personal jurisdiction over them.

The accident occurred in the State of Delaware when a truck driven by a DLC employee, rented from Hertz, allegedly crossed a median striking the vehicle in which Plaintiffs traveled. The DLC employee was transferring sod from a farm that straddles the Maryland/Delaware border.

A federal court has personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant if an applicable state long arm statute confers jurisdiction and the assertion of that jurisdiction is consistent with the Federal Constitution's requirement of Due Process. The Plaintiffs argued that the Defendants purposely availed themselves to the laws of Maryland such that specific personal jurisdiction could be found.

The Courts examine three things when deciding if personal jurisdiction is consistent with Due Process: 1.) the extent to which the Defendant purposely availed itself of the privilege of conducting activities in the State; 2.) whether the Plaintiff's claim arose out of those activities; and 3.) whether the exercise of personal jurisdiction would be constitutionally reasonable.

The farm's business address and phone number were both Delaware-based. Additionally, the Hertz truck was delivered to DLC's office in Delaware. There was nothing to support the contention that either DLC or Hertz had purposely availed themselves of the laws of Maryland. It was thus concluded that personal jurisdiction did not exist. The Motions to dismiss were granted to the extent that the case was transferred to the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware.