Law School Case Brief
Uffner v. La Reunion Francaise - S.A., 244 F.3d 38 (1st Cir. 2001)
For purposes of determining venue under the standard of where a substantial part of the events giving rise to the claim occurred, courts look, not to a single "triggering event" prompting the action, but to the entire sequence of events underlying the claim.
Defendants, La Reunion Francaise, S.A. ("La Reunion"), T.L. Dallas & Co. Ltd. ("T.L. Dallas"), and Schaeffer & Associates, Inc. ("Schaeffer"), issued and underwrote a marine policy for plaintiff Daniel L. Uffner, Jr.’s sailing yacht. The yacht subsequently caught fire and sank in Puerto Rican waters. Uffner's insurance claim was denied due to the alleged absence of a "current out-of-water survey." Uffner sued for bad-faith denial of his insurance claim. Defendants filed motions to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, failure to state a claim, and improper venue. The district court granted the motions based upon lack of personal jurisdiction and improper venue.
Was the sinking of the yacht in Puerto Rican waters a substantial part of the events giving rise to plaintiff owner Uffner's claim for loss under his insurance policy?
The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit vacated the judgment and remanded. The Court held that defendants had waived the defense of lack of personal jurisdiction by not raising it in the motion to dismiss. The district court had dismissed the case on this ground sua sponte, which was error, as under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(g), (h)(1)(A), failure to include this ground in defendants' motion to dismiss waived it, and defendants thereby consented to the court's jurisdiction. The Court also held that venue in the District of Puerto Rico was proper, as the sinking of the yacht in Puerto Rican waters was a substantial part of the events giving rise to Uffner's claim for loss under his insurance policy. Moreover, defendants did not allege venue there would confer a tactical advantage to Uffner or prejudice their own case in any way.
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