Nowak v. Tak How Invs.

94 F.3d 708 (1st Cir. 1996)



A conclusion that minimum contacts exist in a case does not end the inquiry into whether personal jurisdiction exists over an out of state defendant. Personal jurisdiction may only be exercised if it comports with traditional notions of "fair play and substantial justice." Out of this requirement, courts have developed a series of factors that bear on the fairness of subjecting a nonresident to a foreign tribunal. These "gestalt factors" are (1) the defendant's burden of appearing, (2) the forum state's interest in adjudicating the dispute, (3) the plaintiff's interest in obtaining convenient and effective relief, (4) the judicial system's interest in obtaining the most effective resolution of the controversy, and (5) the common interests of all sovereigns in promoting substantive social policies.


A Massachusetts resident who accompanied her husband on a business trip to Hong Kong drowned in their hotel's swimming pool. Plaintiffs brought a wrongful death action against the hotel owner, a corporation that had no place of business outside of Hong Kong. The corporation moved for dismissal, arguing a Massachusetts court could not exercise personal jurisdiction consistently with due process. The district court denied the motion and entered a default judgment against corporation for $3,128,168. On appeal, the court concluded that sufficient contacts existed to satisfy the Massachusetts' long-arm statute and due process. The judgment was affirmed.


Did the district court err in denying defendant's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction?




The court found that corporation's solicitation of business set in motion a chain of reasonably foreseeable events resulting in the decedent's death. While the nexus between the solicitation and the death was not a proximate cause, it demonstrated relatedness. These minimum contacts represented a purposeful availment of the privilege of doing business in Massachusetts and corporation's conduct rendered foreseeable the possibility of being haled into a Massachusetts court.

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