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Minimum contacts are a standard that must be met if a civil court in the United States wishes to exercise jurisdiction over someone from a different state. The person must have had minimum contacts in the state where the suit is being held for the court to have jurisdiction. If this standard is not met, it is deemed unfair to try that person, and the venue of the case must be moved. This is designed to prevent cases in which people are sued in states they have never set foot in.
Minimum contacts establish some degree of connection with the state that is relevant to the case. Some examples include transacting business, buying property, incorporating, marrying, or engaging in similar activities in a given state. If someone wants, for example, to sue an insurance company in civil court, the presence of an office that accepts payments in that person's state establishes minimum contacts, allowing the plaintiff to sue in his or her home state.
When determining whether or not it has jurisdiction, the court considers the quantity and quality of the contacts. Someone who drives through a state and buys some gas certainly is transacting business, for example, but is not establishing minimum contacts. If that person got into a car accident, however, this could create a minimum contact and grounds for a suit in that state.
Courts can evaluate information from a number of sources when considering jurisdictional matters. This information must be verifiable. Things that can be used to prove connections can include mail sent to an in-state address and documentations of transactions that took place in state like receipts and contracts. Another example of documentation can be something like a brochure that provides in-state contact information for a company.
If no standard for minimum contacts was established, people could file suits in the courts most convenient for them. Defendants might be forced to travel long distances to respond to suits or might be sued in states with different laws. This would put defendants who had no minimum contacts in the state in question at a serious disadvantage that might cost them the suit.
Jurisdictional procedure for criminal courts in the United States is different and based on different standards. In cases where people are facing criminal and civil suits for the same case, it is possible that the suits may be filed in different locations, depending on the nature of the case.
My aunt became enraged when she caught her husband cheating on her. Rather than leave him, she vowed to make his life miserable. However, he filed for divorce.
She signed the papers, but later on, she decided to sue him for alimony. They had gotten married in Virginia, and he ran away to Illinois with his new girlfriend. Because they were married in Virginia and this established a minimum contact, he had to return there to go to court.
She had proof of his affair in the form of photos. She also had a better lawyer than he did, so she easily won the case.
My friend got into a car accident that was his fault in a neighboring state, and he got sued by the victim in that state. The wreck established a minimum contact, even though it was the only time he had ever been in that state.
He had bent over to pick a CD up off of the floor when his car wandered into the other lane. When he sat back up, it was too late to avoid hitting the other car head-on.
The person driving the other vehicle suffered a severe neck injury. She sued him for thousands of dollars in her home state and won. His wages will likely be garnished for the rest of his life.
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