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Walden v. Fiore

Supreme Court of the United States

November 4, 2013, Argued; February 25, 2014, Decided

No. 12-574


 [*279]  [**1119]  [***17]    Justice Thomas delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case asks us to decide whether a court in Nevada may exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant on the basis that he knew his allegedly tortious conduct in Georgia would delay the return of funds to plaintiffs with connections to Nevada. Because the defendant had no other contacts with Nevada, and because a plaintiff’s contacts with the forum State cannot be “decisive in determining whether the defendant’s due process rights are violated,” Rush v. Savchuk, 444 U. S. 320, 332, 100 S. Ct. 571, 62 L. Ed. 2d 516 (1980), we hold that the court in Nevada may not exercise personal jurisdiction under these circumstances.

Petitioner Anthony Walden serves as a police officer for the city of Covington, Georgia. In August 2006, petitioner was working at the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport as a deputized agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). As part of a task force, petitioner conducted investigative stops and other law enforcement functions in support of the DEA’s airport drug interdiction program.

On August 8, 2006, Transportation Security Administration agents  [****5] searched respondents Gina Fiore and Keith Gipson  [*280]  and their carry-on bags at the San Juan airport in Puerto Rico. They found almost $97,000 in cash. Fiore explained to DEA agents in San Juan that she and Gipson had been gambling at a casino known as the El San Juan, and that they had residences in both California and Nevada (though they provided only California identification). After respondents were cleared for departure, a law enforcement official at the San Juan airport notified petitioner’s task force in Atlanta that respondents had boarded a plane for Atlanta, where they planned to catch a connecting flight to Las Vegas, Nevada.

When respondents arrived in Atlanta, petitioner and another DEA agent approached them at the departure gate for their flight to Las Vegas. In response to petitioner’s questioning, Fiore explained that she and Gipson were professional gamblers. Respondents maintained that the cash they were carrying was their gambling “‘bank’” and winnings. App. 15, 24. After using a drug-sniffing dog to perform a sniff test, petitioner seized the cash. 1 Petitioner advised respondents that their funds would be returned if they later proved a legitimate source for the cash.  [****6] Respondents then boarded their plane.

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571 U.S. 277 *; 134 S. Ct. 1115 **; 188 L. Ed. 2d 12 ***; 2014 U.S. LEXIS 1635 ****; 82 U.S.L.W. 4097; 24 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 560; 2014 WL 700098

ANTHONY WALDEN, Petitioner v. GINA FIORE et al.

Notice: The LEXIS pagination of this document is subject to change pending release of the final published version.


Fiore v. Walden, 688 F.3d 558, 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 16795 (9th Cir. Nev., 2012)

Disposition: 688 F. 3d 558, reversed.


seized, libel, airport, nonresident, forfeiture

Civil Procedure, Preliminary Considerations, Federal & State Interrelationships, Erie Doctrine, In Rem & Personal Jurisdiction, In Personam Actions, General Overview, Due Process, Long Arm Jurisdiction, Constitutional Law, Fundamental Rights, Procedural Due Process, Scope of Protection, Minimum Contacts, Substantial Contacts