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Conspiracy Theory of Personal Jurisdiction Rejected [With Appellate Update]

In OpenRisk, LLC v. Microstrategy Services Corp., et al., Judge Kaplan declined to adopt a conspiracy theory of personal jurisdiction. Judge Kaplan framed the issue this way:

Does a Massachusetts court have personal jurisdiction over a non-resident, all of whose material, allegedly tortious, acts occurred outside the state, because those acts were taken in concert with individuals who were subject to personal jurisdiction in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts appellate courts, Judge Kaplan noted, have not answered this question. He also noted that there is a split in authority outside of Massachusetts, with the “weight of authority [seeming] to favor the rejection of this theory of jurisdiction.

After analyzing the merits of the case, Judge Kaplan declined to adopt a conspiracy theory of personal jurisdiction.

OpenRisk, LLC v. Microstrategy Services Corp., et al.
May 6, 2015
Full decision here.

APPELLATE UPDATE, September 29, 2016: In OpenRisk, LLC v. Roston, 90 Mass. App. Ct. 1107 (2016) (unpublished), the Massachusetts Appeals Court affirmed Judge Kaplan’s decision. The Appeals Court wrote, in relevant part (citations omitted):

In effect, . . . OpenRisk is asking us to recognize the so-called “conspiracy theory of personal jurisdiction.” To date, no Massachusetts State court has recognized such a theory. Nor has any court in the First Circuit. In fact, one such court held that it did “not believe that the First Circuit would recognize a conspiracy theory of personal jurisdiction, whereby jurisdiction can be obtained over nonresident defendants based upon the jurisdictional contacts of co-conspirators.” Given the state of the law, the alleged [conspiratorial] contact is of no consequence to the due process analysis.

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