The opinion of the Court was delivered by O'HERN, J.
In 1877, the Supreme Court subjected the concept of jurisdiction of the person to the measure of ordered liberty under the fourteenth amendment. Pennoyer v. Neff, 95 U.S. 714, 24 L.Ed. 565 (1877). Detached from the common law's familiar method of reifying abstract concepts (in this area, equating the jurisdiction of a forum with its physical power over the body or the object — in personam or in rem jurisdiction), courts have struggled to define the contours of the due process of law that will sustain the exercise of personal jurisdiction. See Greenstein, "The Nature of Legal Argument: The Personal Jurisdiction Paradigm," 38 Hastings L.J. 855, 855 (July 1987) ("The idea of black letter law seduces us. We crave coherence and certainty in the law as we do in many areas of our lives. We know better, of course. We know that legal doctrine is often indeterminate — that in a particular case, perfectly convincing arguments supporting one conclusion can often be countered by perfectly convincing arguments supporting the opposite conclusion. Yet we continue to search for rules, principles, tests, approaches — anything that will impose order on doctrine. Nowhere is the inherent frustration of this quest more vividly illustrated than in the debates concerning the due process limitations on the assertion of personal jurisdiction by state courts."); Leathers, "Supreme Court Voting Patterns Related to Jurisdictional Issues," 62 Wash.L.Rev. 631, 631 (1987). ("The past decade of development by the United States Supreme Court of constitutional law related to jurisdiction has been one of amazingly swift occurrences. * * * [S]ome of the justices' opinions were inconsistent, and were at odds with their votes in cases where they had not written opinions."); Perdue, "Sin, Scandal, and Substantive Due Process: Personal Jurisdiction and Pennoyer Reconsidered," 62 Wash.L.Rev. 479, 479
One yearns for the certainty of autocracy, for one like a baseball umpire who would call the action fair or foul. It seems that little profit can be gained from an extended analysis of Supreme Court doctrine until the Court itself draws the lines as the umpire of federalism. In its last effort, the Court split four-four-one on its elucidation of a "stream-of-commerce" theory of jurisdiction.
This case arises from a dispute over the purchase in Florida of a 1987 Cigarette SE 38-foot, high-speed, luxury racing boat. Plaintiff claims to have met a representative of the defendant, Everglades Marina, at the 1984 boat show in New York City. According to plaintiff, over the next two years "on at least twenty occasions" he received in New Jersey phone calls of solicitation from the defendant. There was discussion about price, what features were standard and what were extras on the boat, as well as plaintiff's intention to use the boat in New Jersey. Plaintiff claims that he eventually received and signed in New Jersey a Sales Agreement for the purchase of the boat. In about June of 1986, plaintiff took delivery and registered his boat in Florida.
Subsequent to the purchase, plaintiff hired a third-party shipper to bring the boat to New Jersey. The boat never made it. The carrier had an accident en route and the vessel was substantially damaged. The boat was returned to Florida and sold by the plaintiff. However, in negotiating his claims for recovery for the accidental damage, plaintiff learned that this
The defendant made a motion to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction. The trial court denied the defendant's motion, relying on the fact that "[i]t is undisputed in the case at bar that defendant knew plaintiff to be a New Jersey resident." The court specifically rejected any reliance on the fact that the boat show, where plaintiff claims to have first made contact with the defendant, was advertised in New Jersey.
The Appellate Division reversed, 225 N.J.Super. 316, 318 (1988), holding
The panel rejected any claim to minimum contacts under a stream-of-commerce theory, noting that "there was no purposeful action in this State from which to derive benefit from New Jersey sales. Moreover, any consequence of breach of warranty did not occur in New Jersey." Id. at 322. The opinion also took special notice of the fact that "[t]he boat never even arrived in New Jersey." Id. at 321. Finally, the panel concluded that "[t]his was essentially a Florida, not a New Jersey, commercial transaction," and that
We granted certification. 111 N.J. 649 (1988).
As noted, we shall attempt to avoid any areas of unsettled jurisprudence. Hence we shall not predicate our result on the
Does the Everglades Marina have certain minimum contacts with New Jersey?
At this point, we must digress slightly to note that the Supreme Court varies the measure of minimum contacts depending on the nature of the case. If the cause of action relates directly to the contacts, as here, it is one of "specific jurisdiction." "When a State exercises personal jurisdiction over a defendant in a suit not arising out of or related to the defendant's contacts with the forum, the State has been said to be exercising `general jurisdiction' over the defendant." Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 414 n. 9, 104 S.Ct. 1868, 1872 n. 9, 80 L.Ed.2d 404, 411 n. 9 (1984). Commentators have questioned the application of these distinctions between "dispute-blind and dispute-specific" jurisdiction concepts. Twitchell, "The Myth of General Jurisdiction," 101 Harvard L.Rev. 610, 614 (1988) ("encourag[ing] courts to think seriously about the meaning of the general/specific jurisdiction typology that they have so eagerly embraced before they commit themselves to an unnecessarily constrained view of the scope of their adjudicatory power."). Nevertheless,
General jurisdiction subjects the defendant to suit on virtually any claim, even if unrelated to the defendant's contacts with the forum, but is unavailable unless the defendant's activities in the forum state can be characterized as "continuous and systematic" contacts. Helicopteros Nacionales, supra, 466 U.S. at 416, 104 S.Ct. at 1873, 80 L.Ed.2d at 412. The greater measure of the contacts for general jurisdiction is deemed relevant because of the limited interest of the forum state in entertaining the coincidental litigation. Bearry v. Beech Aircraft Corp., 818 F.2d 370, 374 (5th Cir.1987).
In the context of specific jurisdiction, 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) (mere presence in the forum state of defendant's property that is unrelated to the cause of action is insufficient to establish personal jurisdiction), quoted in Keeton v. Hustler Magazine, Inc., 465 U.S. 770, 775, 104 S.Ct. 1473, 1478, 79 L.Ed.2d 790, 798 (1984) (defendant's regular circulation of magazine in forum state is sufficient to establish personal jurisdiction over libel action); Calder v. Jones, 465 U.S. 783, 789, 104 S.Ct. 1482, 1486, 79 L.Ed.2d 804, 811-12 (1984) (defendant is subject to personal jurisdiction based solely on alleged intentional and libelous conduct in Florida "expressly aimed at California"). 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. World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 297-98, 100 S.Ct. 559, 567-68, 62 L.Ed.2d 490, 501-02 (1980).
"This `purposeful availment' requirement ensures that a defendant will not be haled into a jurisdiction solely as a result of `random,' `fortuitous,' or `attenuated' contacts." Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 475, 105 S.Ct. 2174,
We find that facts have been pled that support a finding that the defendant's activities in regard to the specific sale at issue established sufficient contacts with the forum state. (The parties have not sought to distinguish the various counts of the complaint. One count alleges only negligent repair of the yacht at the Florida marina.) This is not a situation in which the plaintiff unilaterally brought about the contacts. Cf. World-Wide Volkswagen, supra (out-of-state automobile distributor's only tie to the forum resulted from a customer's decision to drive there); Kulko v. Superior Court of Cal., 436 U.S. 84, 93-94, 98 S.Ct. 1690, 1697-98, 56 L.Ed.2d 132, 142 (1978) (personal jurisdiction in custody action cannot be based solely on plaintiff's residence in forum state) (dictum); Hanson v. Denckla, 357 U.S. 235, 78 S.Ct. 1228, 2 L.Ed.2d 1283 (1958) (trustee's only connection with forum was the result of settlor exercising her power of appointment there); Northern Propane Gas Co. v. Kipps, 127 Ariz. 522, 622 P.2d 469 (1980) (en banc) (Michigan company that had filled propane tanks had no relationship to Arizona other than that it knew tanks were destined there).
Rather, this defendant allegedly telephoned the buyer in New Jersey to iron out the details of the contract, mailed the
Of course, the mere transmittal of messages by mail or telephone within the state is not the critical factor, it is the nature of the contact. Baron & Co. v. Bank of N.J., 497 F.Supp. 534 (E.D.Pa. 1980) (fact that defendant had made phone calls, mailed checks, and sent correspondence to plaintiff in Pennsylvania is not sufficient to draw defendant into Pennsylvania for purposes of personal jurisdiction); Pennsylvania Mfrs. Ass'n Ins. Co. v. Township of Gloucester, 493 F.Supp. 1047 (E.D.Pa. 1980) (Pennsylvania insurer could not sue foreign municipality in forum state despite two complaint letters sent to insurer in forum state). But when a merchant uses the instrumentalities of commerce to tap an interstate market for its product, such wire and mail communications are relevant contacts to be considered. United Coal Co. v. Land Use Corp., 575 F.Supp. 1148, 1157 (W.D.Va. 1983) (fact that "[t]elephone conversations, telexes and letters traveled to and from the state, establishing an agreement" considered as part of the contacts sustaining jurisdiction of the forum); Hoster v. Monongahela Steel Corp., 492 F.Supp. 1249 (W.D.Okla. 1980) (defendants who made several telephone calls to plaintiff, corresponded twice with plaintiff, and sent agent to negotiate with plaintiff held to have sufficient contacts to establish jurisdiction
Some confusion on the relevance of the use of mails, telephone, or other communication may arise from the qualitative nature of contacts required to establish the "systematic and continuous course of business" that sustains general jurisdiction. See Thos. P. Gonzalez Corp. v. Consejo Nacional de Produccion de Costa Rica, 614 F.2d 1247, 1254 (9th Cir.1980) (holding isolated acts by the defendant in the forum state unrelated to the cause of action insufficient to establish personal jurisdiction). "When, however, a non-resident defendant purposely directs its activities to the forum, and the litigation results from alleged injuries that arise out of or relate to those activities, the forum may assert personal jurisdiction over the defendant." Hughes v. Balemaster, Inc., 652 F.Supp. 1350, 1351-52 (E.D.Mo. 1987); see also Maglio & Kendro, Inc. v. Superior Enerquip Corp., 233 N.J.Super. 388 (App.Div. 1989) (finding personal jurisdiction over nonresident defendant who telephoned plaintiff located in forum state to solicit performance of services). Contrary New Jersey cases dealing with the significance of telephone contacts are distinguishable. See DeLear v. Rozel Packing Corp., 95 N.J.Super. 344 (App.Div. 1967) (incidental telephone contacts from New York lender to New Jersey borrower not sufficient to establish personal jurisdiction in trustee's suit to set aside preference); William Sternberg & Assoc. v. Litho Supply, Inc., 219 N.J.Super. 201, 205 (Law Div. 1987) ("mere broker" in sale of goods neither
The limited nature of those contacts does not defeat the jurisdiction of the court. Rather, it goes more properly to the second prong of the test, which would be to consider whether it would offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice to entertain the suit. In Burger King, the Court found specific jurisdiction based on relatively few contacts between the nonresident defendant and the forum state of Florida. Rudzewicz was a Burger King franchise owner who lived in Michigan and claimed he had dealt primarily with the Michigan office. 471 U.S. at 487-90, 105 S.Ct. at 2190-91, 85 L.Ed.2d at 550-51 (Stevens, J., dissenting). However, because his contract contained a Florida choice-of-law clause, required payments to be made in Florida, and was negotiated and supervised from Burger King's Florida Headquarters, there was a "purposeful availment" of Florida's laws and a reasonable basis on which to anticipate litigation in Florida. Id. at 479-82, 105 S.Ct. at 2185-87, 85 L.Ed.2d at 545-47. In this case, defendant's alleged phone calls to New Jersey and use of the mails to solicit the contract would satisfy the minimum-contacts requirement. Moreover, given that the defendant knew that plaintiff was a New Jersey resident, as well as plaintiff's claim that defendant was informed that the boat would be shipped to New Jersey, this seems like the type of case referred to in Keeton v. Hustler Magazine, Inc., supra, in which "plaintiff's residence in the forum may, because of defendant's relationship with the plaintiff, enhance defendant's contacts with the forum." 465 U.S. at 780, 104 S.Ct. at 1481, 79 L.Ed.2d at 801. The mere fact that neither defendant nor the boat was ever physically present in New Jersey does not preclude a finding that minimum contacts existed. As the Supreme Court stated in Burger King, supra,
There can be no doubt that defendant was well aware that this sale would have direct consequences in New Jersey such that it should have been aware of the possibility of litigation arising in that forum. See Calder v. Jones, supra, 465 U.S. 783, 104 S.Ct. 1482, 79 L.Ed.2d 804.
Would entertainment of jurisdiction in New Jersey "offend `traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice'"?
Of course, once it is established that defendant's activities relating to the action established minimum contacts with the forum state, the "fair play and substantial justice" inquiry must still be made. But a nonresident defendant who has been found to have minimum contacts with the forum "must present a compelling case that the presence of some other considerations would render jurisdiction unreasonable." Burger King, supra, 471 U.S. at 477, 105 S.Ct. at 2184, 85 L.Ed.2d at 544. This determination requires evaluation of such factors as "the burden on the defendant, the interests of the forum State, * * * the plaintiff's interest in obtaining relief[,] * * * `the interstate judicial system's interest in obtaining the most efficient resolution of controversies; and the shared interest of the several States in furthering fundamental substantive social policies.'" Asahi, supra, 480 U.S. at 113, 107 S.Ct. at 1034, 94 L.Ed.2d at 105 (quoting World-Wide Volkswagen, supra, 444 U.S. at 292, 100 S.Ct. at 564, 62 L.Ed.2d at 498 (citations omitted)). Although the burden on Everglades Marina to defend this action in New Jersey is perhaps slightly greater than the hypothetical burden on Lebel in bringing the suit in Florida,
Certainly New Jersey has a legitimate interest in carrying out its own law
Given the relative standings of these parties and the interests of the sovereign, we are unable to conclude that it offends our notions of fair play or substantial justice that this rather significant contract be examined in a New Jersey court. See McGee v. International Life Ins. Co., supra, 355 U.S. 220, 78 S.Ct. 199, 2 L.Ed.2d 223; Avdel Corp. v. Mecure, 58 N.J. 264 (1971); Dave's Trash Removal v. Charm City Equip. Corp., 214 N.J.Super. 497 (App.Div. 1987).
Of course, we realize that this result pushes at the "outermost limit" of personal jurisdiction. Dave's Trash Removal, supra, 214 N.J. Super. at 500. We would not say that a Florida bicycle retailer who sold a bike to a New Jersey resident, even
The judgment of the Appellate Division is reversed and the matter remanded to the Law Division for further proceedings in accordance with this opinion.
For reversal and remandment — Chief Justice WILENTZ and Justices CLIFFORD, HANDLER, POLLOCK, O'HERN, GARIBALDI and STEIN — 7.
Opposed — None.