Barbeau v. Hoppenrath – Case Brief Summary (New Mexico)

In Barbeau v. Hoppenrath, 2001 NMCA 77, 131 N.M. 124, 33 P.3d 675, based on a traffic accident occurring in New Mexico, and two days before the expiration of the applicable New Mexico statute of limitations, the plaintiffs filed their original action against the alleged tortfeasor and an insurer in federal court in Oregon. 2001 NMCA 77, 5, 131 N.M. 124, 33 P.3d 675.

The federal court dismissed the action. Id. The plaintiffs' second action in New Mexico was dismissed when the district court determined that Section 37-1-14 did not save the plaintiffs' claim. Id. 6.

Noting that "whatever forum chosen must at least arguably provide personal and subject matter jurisdiction" and have "the power to decide the matter involved," the Court stated that the plaintiffs "defeated subject matter jurisdiction by the very allegations in their Oregon federal court complaint." Id. 1, 15.

Also, the plaintiffs conceded that the Oregon federal court lacked personal jurisdiction. Id. We determined that "the claim was clearly improperly filed in Oregon federal court," and that the plaintiffs' actions were not strategic but instead demonstrated "a clear disregard of the elementary requirements of jurisdiction." Id. 11.

Based on the foregoing circumstances, we held that the facts amounted to negligence in the prosecution of the Oregon federal court action, and we declined to save the New Mexico action under Section 37-1-14. Barbeau, 2001 NMCA 776, 131 N.M. 124, 33 P.3d 675.