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Walden v. Fiore

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: February 25, 2014
Case #: 12-574
THOMAS, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court
Full Text Opinion: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/13pdf/12-574_8mj9.pdf

Civil Procedure: The drafting of a false affidavit of probable cause in Georgia which concerned property owned by Nevada residents was insufficient to establish the "minimum contacts" necessary for a Nevada court to exercise personal jurisdiction over a Georgia defendant.

Petitioner, a law enforcement agent, seized cash from Respondent while Respondent was traveling through a Georgia airport.  Subsequently, Petitioner helped to draft a probable cause affidavit for forfeiture of the money.  No forfeiture complaint was filed and the money was eventually returned to Respondent.

Respondent sued Petitioner in the District Court for the District of Nevada, arguing that Petitioner violated their Fourth Amendment rights by seizing the money without probable cause and drafting a probable cause affidavit that contained false statements. The district court dismissed the case, concluding that it could not exercise personal jurisdiction over Petitioner in Nevada for a seizure that occurred in Georgia. The Ninth Circuit reversed, concluding that the Nevada court could exercise personal jurisdiction over “the false probable cause affidavit aspect of the case.” 

The Supreme Court reversed and held that the drafting of a false affidavit in Georgia did not create the “minimum contacts” necessary for a Nevada court to exercise personal jurisdiction over Petitioner. The Court reasoned that the relevant conduct did not take place in Nevada, and the fact that Respondents may have experienced injury in Nevada did not sufficiently connect Petitioner with the forum.