Commercial Litigation and Arbitration

RICO — Nationwide Jurisdiction — National vs. Local Contacts — Circuit Split

From Unencumbered Assets Trust v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44174 (S.D. Ohio May 11, 2009):

The UAT contends that when a federal RICO claim is asserted, courts evaluate personal jurisdiction based on nationwide contacts. The RICO statute provides for nationwide service of process, 18 U.S.C. § 1965, and some courts have interpreted this to mean that personal jurisdiction under RICO can be established through nationwide contacts. See, e.g., Republic of Panama v. BCCI Holdings (Luxembourg) S.A., 119 F.3d 935, 942 (11th Cir. 1997) ("When a federal statute provides for nationwide service of process, it becomes the statutory basis for personal jurisdiction."); ESAB Group, Inc. v. Centricut, Inc., 126 F.3d 617, 627 (4th Cir. 1997) ("Because [defendants] have been validly served pursuant to RICO's nationwide service provision, 18 U.S.C. § 1965(d), in personam jurisdiction over them is established, provided that such jurisdiction comports with the Fifth Amendment."). Other courts have followed a different formulation, requiring personal jurisdiction based on minimum contacts with the forum state as to at least one defendant in the RICO enterprise before applying a nationwide contacts test to the remaining defendants. See, e.g. FC Inv. Group LC v. IFX Markets, Ltd., 529 F.3d 1087, 1099-1100, 381 U.S. App. D.C. 383 (D.C. Cir. 2008) ("[A] civil RICO action can only be brought in a district court where personal jurisdiction based on minimum contacts is established as to at least one defendant."); PT United Can Co. Ltd. v. Crown Cork & Seal Co., 138 F.3d 65, 70 (2d Cir. 1998) (same). The Sixth Circuit has not stated a position on this issue. See NGS American, Inc. v. Jefferson, 218 F.3d 519, 524 n.5 (6th Cir. 2000) (stating without holding that Sixth Circuit precedent in the non-RICO context "supports acceptance of the national contacts approach").

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