Long arm jurisdiction is a statutory grant of jurisdiction to local courts over out-of-state defendants. This jurisdiction permits a court to hear a case against a defendant and enter a binding judgment against a defendant residing outside the state’s jurisdiction. Without a long arm statute, a state’s court may not have personal jurisdiction over a particular defendant.
Generally, the authority of a court to exercise long arm jurisdiction must be based upon some action of the defendant which subjects him or her to the jurisdiction of the court. A state’s ability to confer jurisdiction is limited by the Constitution. The use of a long arm statute is usually constitutional where the defendant has certain minimum contacts with the forum state and there has been reasonable notice of the action against him or her.
In admiralty, extraterritorial service is not authorized by any special law, and that portion of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure which permits service upon nonresidents pursuant to federal statute therefore has no application in admiralty cases. However, insofar as it authorizes extraterritorial suit pursuant to a state long-arm statute, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure may be utilized in an in personam action in admiralty. Where personal jurisdiction over a nonresident party to an admiralty action in federal court is obtained under the state’s long-arm statute, pursuant to federal law, the federal court’s exercise of personal jurisdiction over the nonresident does not offend due process, provided that the minimum contact test is met.
Since state long-arm statutes are seldom drafted with admiralty actions in mind, in determining whether jurisdiction exists, the state long-arm statute must be liberally construed, consistent with due process.