Minimum Contacts for Jurisdiction In California

Code of Civil Procedure section 410.10 permits California courts to exercise jurisdiction on any basis not inconsistent with state or federal constitutional principles. The federal constitutional principles governing jurisdiction, represented by the legal shorthand references minimum contacts, Internat. Shoe, and World-Wide Volkswagen familiar to every law student, are simple to state but difficult to apply. The overarching general rule is that a court may assume jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant where the defendant's "minimum contacts" with the forum state are sufficient to make the maintenance of the action inoffensive to traditional concepts of fair play and substantial justice. (Internat. Shoe Co. v. Washington (1945) 326 U.S. 310, 320 66 S. Ct. 154, 160, 90 L. Ed. 95, 161 A.L.R. 1057.) Thus, minimum contacts exist where the defendant's conduct in or connection with the forum state is such that the defendant should reasonably anticipate being subject to suit in the state (World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson (1980) 444 U.S. 286, 297 100 S. Ct. 559, 567, 62 L. Ed. 2d 490); that is, the defendant's contacts with the forum state are substantial, continuous and systematic (Vons Companies, Inc. v. Seabest Foods, Inc. (1996) 14 Cal. 4th 434, 445 58 Cal. Rptr. 2d 899, 926 P.2d 1085). "The sufficiency of such contacts to support jurisdiction is a matter of constitutional law on which the Supreme Court of the United States has the final voice. a judgment rendered in the absence of such contacts violates the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment." (Judicial Council of Cal. com., reprinted at 14 West's Ann. Code Civ. Proc. (1973 ed.) foll. 410.10, p. 461; see also Rice Growers Assn. v. First National Bank (1985) 167 Cal. App. 3d 559, 567 214 Cal. Rptr. 468.) When the defendant is a foreign corporation, the question whether "jurisdiction may be constitutionally exercised depends upon the circumstances of each individual case. . . . the analysis is concerned with weighing the various relevant 'contacts' by the foreign corporation within the state attempting to exercise jurisdiction." (Empire Steel Corp. v. Superior Court (1961) 56 Cal. 2d 823, 831 17 Cal. Rptr. 150, 366 P.2d 502 (Empire Steel).) The concept of minimum contacts embraces two types of jurisdiction--general and specific. General jurisdiction results where the defendant's contacts with the forum state are so "systematic and so continuous as to make it consistent with traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice to subject the defendant to the jurisdiction of the forum, even where the cause of action is unrelated to the contacts." (Calvert v. Huckins (E.D.Cal. 1995) 875 F. Supp. 674, 677 (Calvert); see Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia v. Hall (1984) 466 U.S. 408, 414, fn. 9 104 S. Ct. 1868, 1872, 80 L. Ed. 2d 404.) Specific jurisdiction results when the defendant's contacts with the forum state, though not enough to subject the defendant to the general jurisdiction of the forum, are sufficient to subject the defendant to suit in the forum on a cause of action related to or arising out of those contacts. (AT&T Co. v. Compagnie Bruxelles Lambert (9th Cir. 1996) 94 F.3d 586, 588 (AT&T); Capizzano v. Walt Disney World Co. (D.R.I. 1993) 826 F. Supp. 53, 54-55.) Specific jurisdiction exists if: (1) the defendant has purposefully availed itself of forum benefits with respect to the matter in controversy; (2) the controversy is related to or arises out of the defendant's contacts with the forum; (3) the assertion of jurisdiction would comport with fair play and substantial justice. (Vons Companies, Inc. v. Seabest Foods, Inc., supra, 14 Cal. 4th at pp. 446-447; see also Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, supra, 466 U.S. at pp. 414-415 104 S. Ct. at p. 1872; Goehring v. Superior Court (1998) 62 Cal. App. 4th 894, 904 73 Cal. Rptr. 2d 105; Sher v. Johnson (9th Cir. 1990) 911 F.2d 1357, 1361.)