The World in U.S. Courts: Spring 2016 - Personal Jurisdiction/Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA)/Forum Non Conveniens
Plaintiffs are Illinois residents who used the Internet to book a vacation in Mexico at a resort allegedly owned by a Spanish company. While there, they took an eco-tour organized by a Mexican company. One of the plaintiffs was killed during the tour when the all-terrain vehicle in which she was riding overturned. Her next of kin and administrators sued the Spanish and Mexican companies, alleging they were responsible for the accident.
The Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of the suit on grounds that the trial court did not have personal jurisdiction over the defendants. While the plaintiffs were Illinois residents and booked the hotel stay from that State, under the U.S. Supreme Court's Walden decision personal jurisdiction over a defendant must be based on that defendant's activities related to the forum, not the activities of the plaintiff. In this case, the defendants had no accident-related contacts of any kind with Illinois, and so personal jurisdiction could not constitutionally be imposed.