The World in U.S. Courts: Summer 2017 - Personal Jurisdiction/Forum Non Conveniens | May.24.2017
Plaintiff Hood, a resident of Northern Ireland, brought this action against his former employers and related entities, asserting contract, tort, and State statutory claims. They failed to appear, but the trial court concluded that it lacked personal jurisdiction over them and dismissed the case.
As relevant here, the Court of Appeals affirmed this decision. Hood argued that general personal jurisdiction existed over the two foreign defendants registered in the Sultanate of Oman based on the incorporation of their alleged agents (and co-defendants) in Delaware. The Court of Appeals rejected this expansive concept of general jurisdiction based on agency, noting that the Delaware entities’ product sales in New York were legally insufficient in any event to trigger jurisdiction. The Court of Appeals also rejected Hood’s argument that specific personal jurisdiction existed, observing that his claims were wholly unrelated to the defendants’ alleged activities in New York. The fact that the relevant employment agreement was to be governed by New York law was essentially irrelevant to the inquiry, as Hood’s employment was in Oman, and he alleged that the defendants breached the agreement based on performance requirements in that country.