A Kentucky attorney who never practiced north of the Ohio River got the Indiana Supreme Court to agree she was not a Hoosier.
Suzanne Cassidy, a lawyer licensed in Kentucky, was sued in Indiana state court by two men who had once employed her client, Ernest Smith. Cassidy had represented Smith against his former employers in a federal employment-discrimination lawsuit but eventually dropped the complaint.
The employers countered with their own lawsuit, alleging the discrimination suit was frivolous and constituted malicious prosecution among other things. Subsequently, the Dearborn Superior Court granted Cassidy’s motion for summary judgment, in part, because it lacked personal jurisdiction over the attorney.
However, the Indiana Court of Appeals disagreed and found the trial court did have personal jurisdiction.
The Indiana Supreme Court affirmed the trial court in Dennis Boyer and Richard Smith v. Ernest Smith, Suzanne Cassidy, Esq., and In-Plas, Inc., 15S01-1509-CT-526. It found her contacts with Indiana were products of her relationship with the plaintiffs and her client.
In particular, the justices pointed out Cassidy never practiced law in Indiana and did not seek business from Indiana residents. She had to communicate with the Indiana office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission because that was where her client’s claim was transferred.
Additionally, Cassidy attended a deposition in Indiana simply because the plaintiffs’ attorney scheduled it at his Indiana office. Finally, she corresponded with an Indiana attorney and served documents only as required by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
“It would be fundamentally unfair and unjust to pluck a Kentucky citizen from her home state and bring her to Indiana to hold her accountable in our courts when she has no minimum contacts within or substantial connection to Indiana,” Chief Justice Loretta Rush wrote. “…Simply put, Attorney Cassidy herself neither created nor invoked sufficient minimum contacts within Indiana to warrant specific personal jurisdiction in this case.”