Civil Procedure I, Pages 89–90

Hanson v. Denckla

Supreme Court of the United States, 1958

Facts:

Mrs. Donner, a resident of Pennsylvania, created a trust in Delaware with a Delaware bank as trustee. Afterwards she moved to Florida where she died with her will probated in Florida.

Issue:

Can one state claim jurisdiction over a trust created in another state by a resident of a third state if that resident moves into the first state?

Rule:

It is essential in each case 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.

Reasoning:

The trust was created in Delaware. The Delaware trustee had not done any transactions, solicitation, or any other business in Florida. Donner had her trust income sent to her new Florida address and did some administrative work from there, but the trustee did not do any acts or avail itself of any benefits of Florida. As the trustee had no "minimal contacts" in Florida, forcing the trustee to defend in Florida would not be fair play.

Holding:

No, a state cannot claim jurisdiction over a trust created in another state by a resident of a third state if that resident moves into the first state.

Takeaway:

Unilateral activity of the plaintiff does not give the defendant contact in the forum state.

Brave Browser – Ad-free browsing