Lack of personal jurisdiction? Delima v. Burres (D.Utah Feb. 26, 2013)

Delima v. Burres, No. 2:12–cv–00469–DBP, 2013 WL 690536 (D.Utah Feb. 26, 2013). In this Federal contact suit by an I-864 Beneficiary the Court held that it lacked personal jurisdiction over Sponsor-defendant.

It appears the parties hired a Utah law firm to prepare the I-864, but executed the form in Montana… at least there was no evidence this took place in Utah.

The magistrate judge first analyzed whether the Beneficiary/Plaintiff had demonstrated minimum contacts with Utah sufficient for the State’s long-arm statute and due process.  The Court found that Plaintiff’s hiring of a Utah law firm to prepare the Form was not a minimum contact, and that Plaintiff had failed to show other plausible grounds.  The magistrate then turned briefly to 8 C.F.R. § 213a.2(d), which is generally read to waive the defense of personal jurisdiction by a Sponsor who signs the I-864.  The magistrate then summarily concluded that the “Defendant’s decision to sign the Form I-864… does [not?] constitute a waiver or replacement of her constitutional due process rights related to personal jurisdiction."

This case is an outlier - Courts generally determine that Sponsors waive objection to personal jurisdiction when they execute the I-864.  It will be interesting to see if the magistrate’s decision will be contested.  Contracts, of course, can restraints on personal jurisdiction and do so all the time.  The decision gave no analysis of why the contractual provisions in the form itself were insufficient for such a waiver: “I agree to submit to the personal jurisdiction of any Federal or State court that has subject matter jurisdiction of a lawsuit against me…”