Burt, a traveling salesman, lives in North Carolina, and sells vacuums all over the southeast U.S., including Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. While driving to make a delivery to a store in South Carolina, Burt gets into a car accident on the South Carolina Freeway with Donald, a resident of that state.
If Burt brings a negligence suit against Donald in North Carolina, can that court exercise jurisdiction over Donald? If Donald brings a negligence suit against Burt in Florida, can that court exercise jurisdiction over Burt? What if Donald sued Burt in South Carolina?
Imagine you are driving home across the country from New York to California in a car, which breaks down somewhere in Kansas. You pull into the lot of a used car dealership and explain to the owner/salesman that you need a relatively inexpensive car to get you to your home in California and he sells you a very used Cadillac. You drive away, and as you cross the state line into California, the brakes fail and you crash into a tree.
If you sue the car salesman/dealership in California, can that court exercise jurisdiction?
Machina Ltd. designs and manufactures high-end blenders for making smoothies and cocktails in Italy, which it sells to VitaItalia, a distributor based in New Jersey. VitaItalia sells five of Machina’s blenders to a boutique in New York City. You buy a Machina blender and are injured while using it. If you sue Machina Ltd. in New York state court, will the court be able to exercise personal jurisdiction over the company? How (if at all) would your answer change if Machina manufactured its blenders in Virginia instead of Italy?
Two New Yorkers, on vacation in San Francisco, rent a car to visit Mendocino. On their way to Mendocino, the New Yorkers see a sign for a locally owned jam and jelly shop. The New Yorkers pull over, and, before purchasing a jar of jelly, tell the Californian behind the counter that they are from New York and plan to bring the jelly home with them. The New Yorkers buy the jelly, eat it when they get home to New York, and get sick with botulism.
The plaintiffs want to sue in New York. If the jelly shop maintains a website, accessible in New York, on which is posted the following advertisement: “Start your Sunday with the New York Times. Instead of Philadelphia cream cheese, put California jelly on your bagels. To order, send your check or money order to P.O. Box GUAVA, Mendocino, CA,” would the New York court have jurisdiction?