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Indiana has no jurisdiction in case of damaged boat

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The Indiana Court of Appeals found a plaintiff’s claims that personal jurisdiction existed in Indiana over a Michigan company involved in a lawsuit about his damaged boat didn’t hold water.

Hamilton County resident Dr. Dev Brar filed a small claims lawsuit in Hamilton County seeking $6,000 for damages to the bow of his boat. The boat, which docked in Chicago from May to October, was stored at Wolf’s Marine in Michigan for the winter. When Brar’s personal agent, Thomas Leonard – who found the facility to store the boat – retrieved the boat from Wolf’s in May 2012, he said the bow was damaged.

Wolf’s sought to have the case dismissed and filed in Berrien County, Mich. The trial court found it had personal jurisdiction over Wolf’s and denied Wolf’s motion to dismiss.

On interlocutory appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed, rejecting Brar’s argument that merely entering into a contract with an Indiana resident subjects an out-of-state defendant to suit in Indiana.

The judges found this case to be similar to ones in which a hotel or other attraction advertises its services to residents in other states, a person decides to visit that hotel or attraction, he or she sustains injury at the hotel or attraction, and then attempts to sue the hotel or attraction in his or her home state.

“Additionally, the mere fact that a plaintiff executes a contract in his or her home state and sends the contract back to an out-of-state defendant does not confer personal jurisdiction over the defendant,” Judge Michael Barnes wrote in Wolf's Marine, Inc. v. Dev Brar, 29A02-1303-SC-293.

“Wolf’s deliberate contacts with Indiana were limited to general advertising, emailing a form contract to Leonard at Leonard’s request, and invoicing and receiving payment from Leonard. We hold this was not sufficient ‘purposeful availment’ of the privilege of conducting business in Indiana by Wolf’s so as to permit Indiana to exercise specific personal jurisdiction over it with respect to Dr. Brar’s cause of action.”

 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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