District Court Finds No Personal Jurisdiction over Indian Citizen Whose Presence in New York Was Inadequately Explained or documented by the Plaintiffs.

The World in U.S. Courts: Summer and Fall 2016 - Personal Jurisdiction/Forum Non Conveniens/ Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act (FSIA)

Singh v. Singh, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, June 2, 2016

The defendant allegedly abused and tortured the plaintiffs, Indian citizens, in India.  The plaintiffs filed suit under the Torture Victim Protection Act (“TVPA”) in the Southern District of New York.  The defendant was an Indian citizen living in India, and the defendant contended that he was subject to the Court’s personal jurisdiction via general or specific jurisdiction.

As regards general jurisdiction, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendant was domiciled in New York, based on the fact that he was present in the State at the time the plaintiffs filed the complaint.  The District Court in New York disagreed, explaining that physical presence in the State at the time of filing was not enough to suggest that defendant was domiciled there.  Alternatively, general jurisdiction could be found if defendant’s business activities within New York were sufficiently continuous and systematic, but the Court observed that the plaintiffs failed to provide any factual allegations tending to show that defendant did any business in New York.

The Court then explained that a tortious act committed outside of New York that causes injury to “person or property within the state” can create specific jurisdiction under New York’s “long arm statute.  But it added that the location of the “injury” is the location of the original event which caused the injury, not the location where the Plaintiff experienced the resulting damages.  Thus, because defendant committed the alleged acts in India, the alleged injury cannot provide the basis for specific jurisdiction, even though the Plaintiffs ultimately traveled to the U.S. Thus, the court granted defendant’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.

[Editor’s note:  The Court did not consider whether jurisdiction could be based on the physical service of a copy of the complaint on the defendant while he was in New York because the Plaintiffs were unable to provide sufficient proof that had occurred.]

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