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Law School Case Brief

Cannington v. Cannington - 50 Va. Cir. 165 (Cir. Ct. 1999)


Courts of a state have jurisdiction over nonresidents who are physically present in the state, and personal service on a nonresident defendant who is present in the state does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.


Complainant husband and defendant wife were married in Texas on June 1988. Since their separation, complainant has resided in Reston, Virginia. In 1999, defendant was personally served in the Commonwealth of Virginia with a Bill of Complaint for Divorce as she stepped out of a car at Dulles Airport. Defendant was scheduled to travel on a flight from Dulles to Houston, Texas. Complainant made the travel arrangements for Defendant’s flight. As a defense against the jurisdiction of the court over her person, the defendant alleged that the complainant used fraud and trickery to induce her to go to Virginia in order to serve her with process in a divorce proceeding.


Did the State of Virginia, through personal service on the non-resident defendant present in the State, obtain in personam jurisdiction over the defendant?




The court stated that the service of process on defendant while she was present in the state was sufficient to obtain in personam jurisdiction over her. The court found that complainant made travel arrangements for defendant in the past and that defendant visited Virginia on several occasions to conduct personal business. The court also noted that defendant would have driven to Virginia to leave her son with his grandparents if complainant had not made the travel plans. The court concluded that defendant's presence in the state was neither contrived nor unusual. The court held that complainant did not use fraud or trickery when making travel arrangements for defendant.

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