Fiore v. Walden

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Procedure
  • Date Filed: 09-12-2011
  • Case #: 08-17558
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Berzon for the Court; Circuit Judge Goodwin; Circuit Judge Ikuta dissenting
  • Full Text Opinion

Personal jurisdiction in Nevada was found over a Georgia state DEA agent using the three-part Schwarzenegger test and the Calder-effects test, after he knowingly seized plaintiffs funds through falsified probable cause, claiming their legitimate gambling winnings was money used in the drug trade.

Fiore and Gipson, professional gamblers, were stopped at a Transportation Security Administration (“TSA”) checkpoint on their return home to Las Vegas from San Juan, Puerto Rico, where a search of their carry-on bags revealed approximately $97,000 in cash. After questioning Fiore and Gipson in Atlanta, DEA Agent Walden stopped both with drug-detecting dogs and claimed that a single pawing of Gipson’s bag was sufficient to seize all the funds as money involved in drug transactions. Walden told Fiore and Gipson that the money would be returned to them in Las Vegas if they later produced receipts legitimizing the funds. The legitimized funds were not returned however, as Walden had forwarded the matter to headquarters for additional investigation, falsifying probable cause for the search and seizure. Fiore and Gipson brought a Bivens claim in Las Vegas against Walden and other DEA agents alleging violation of their Fourth Amendment rights. The district court dismissed the claim against Walden for lack of personal jurisdiction under FRCP 12(b)(2) and improper venue under FRCP 12(b)(3) stating that Georgia was were the initial search and seizure occurred. Fiore and Gipson appealed. The three-part Schwarzenegger test is used by the Court to determine personal jurisdiction: (1) purposeful direction or purposeful availment, (2) forum-related conduct, and (3) reasonable determination. The Court found purposeful direction under the Calder-effects test, forum-related conduct using the “but for” test, and found Nevada a reasonable forum determination after a balancing of factors. The district court was remanded “to decide whether to retain or dismiss the pendent [search and seizure] claims,” as it had no personal jurisdiction over the state-law claims alone. In regards to venture, the Court held that “‘a substantial part of the event or omissions giving rise to the claim’ occurred in Nevada.” REVERSED and REMANDED.

Advanced Search