Where Can you Sue a Car Dealership?

Under the relevant due process inquiry, the forum state’s exercise of jurisdiction must be reasonable, which is measured by the “minimal contacts” doctrine, a threshold requirement for specific personal jurisdiction. Hanson v. Denckla, 357 U.S. 235, 251, 78 S.Ct. 1228, 1238, 2 L.Ed.2d 1283, 1296 (1958); International Shoe v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 66 S.Ct. 154, 90 L.Ed. 95 (1945); Waste Management, supra, 138 N.J. at 119-20, 649 A.2d 379; Lebel, supra, 115 N.J. at 322, 558 A.2d 1252. Minimal contacts requires “that there be some act by which the defendant purposefully avails itself of the privilege of conducting activities within the forum State, thus invoking the benefits and protections of its laws.” Hanson, supra, 357 U.S. at 253, 78 S.Ct. at 1240, 2 L.Ed.2d at 1298. Under a specific jurisdiction analysis, the minimum contacts inquiry must focus on “the relationship among the defendant, the forum, and the litigation.” Shaffer v. Heitner, 433 U.S. 186, 204, 97 S.Ct. 2569, 2579, 53 L.Ed.2d 683, 698 (1977); Lebel, supra, 115 N.J. at 323, 558 A.2d 1252.

In applying the “minimum contacts” test, we focus on the relationship among the defendant, the forum, and the litigation. The “minimum contacts” requirement is satisfied so long as the contacts resulted from the defendant’s purposeful conduct and not the unilateral activities of the plaintiff. This “purposeful availment” requirement ensures that a defendant will not be hauled into a jurisdiction solely as a result of random, fortuitous, or attenuated contacts. The question is whether the defendant’s conduct and connection with the forum State are such that he should reasonably anticipate being hauled into court there. Lebel v. Everglades Marina, Inc., 115 N.J. 317, 323-24, 558 A.2d 1252 (1989)

Both the Appellate Division and the New Jersey Supreme Court have held that the seller of retail goods in another state is subject to the jurisdiction of the State of New Jersey. The Supreme Court specifically held in Lebel v. Everglades Marina, Inc., 115 N.J. 317 (1989) that, “In comparison, the marketer of a big ticket luxury item that accomplishes the sale by solicitation of out-of-state buyer in the buyer’s state can fairly be expected to contemplate that a breach of contract will expose it to a suit in the forum of the buyer. We thus find this does not offend our notions of substantial justice and fair play to ask the seller of this special order, Luxury Vessel, to account for its negotiations of the transaction in a New Jersey court.”
In Accura Ziesel Machinery Corp. v. Timco Inc., 305, N.J. Super, 559 (App. Div. 1997), the Appellate Division held that a seller of goods in the State of Tennessee is subject to the jurisdiction in the State of New Jersey by placing their goods in the stream of commerce accompanied by other contacts with the State of New Jersey.