Defendants in Wonderland: Due Process and Other Concerns Affecting “Conspiracy Theory” Jurisdiction
ABA Section of Litigation
Commercial and Business Litigation Committee
Wednesday, July 18 2018
9:00 -10:00 AM PT | 10:00-11:00 AM MT | 11:00 AM-12:00 PM CT | 12:00-1:00 PM ET
The “conspiracy theory” of personal jurisdiction, where non-resident defendants can be dragged into a foreign jurisdiction based on actions undertaken in the forum state by defendants’ alleged co-conspirators, is currently recognized in many states. Yet several jurists and scholars question the constitutionality of the theory. Conferring personal jurisdiction based on a third party’s actions and a plaintiff’s allegations of conspiratorial relations, as opposed to proven or undisputed facts establishing a defendant’s direct and purposeful availment of the forum’s benefits, raise due process concerns. Additionally, recent cases highlight the susceptibility of conspiracy theory jurisdiction to abuse and forum shopping by plaintiffs willing to manufacture a conspiracy solely to avoid litigating in unfavorable jurisdictions.
The roundtable will discuss whether the conspiracy theory of personal jurisdiction should be struck down as violative of due process. To the extent the theory remains viable, the panel will address the pleading and evidentiary standards that are or should be required of plaintiffs to establish personal jurisdiction based on alleged conspiratorial acts.
Paul J. Vincenti, Elyse C. Pillitteri and Benjamin Robbins.
Paul J. Vincenti and Elyse C. Pillitteri are with Vincenti & Vincenti, P.C., in New York, NY. Paul and Elyse’s law firm represented foreign entity defendants in the Reid v. Siniscalchi litigation.
Benjamin Robbins is a Senior Staff Attorney at the New England Legal Foundation (NELF). NELF submitted amicus briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court in Walden v. Fiore and Fitch Ratings, Inc. v. First Community Bank, N.A.