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Court of Chancery Rejects Conspiracy Theory of Jurisdiction At Summary Judgment Stage

Posted In Jurisdiction

Reid v. Siniscalchi, C.A. No. 2874-VCS (January 30, 2018)

The facts underlying this summary judgment decision are rather remarkable.  The case is long-pending, and involved years of jurisdictional discovery granted for the purpose of allowing the plaintiff to explore its pleading-stage theory of personal jurisdiction under the so-called conspiracy theory.  The gist of that theory is that a Delaware court can exercise personal jurisdiction over all co-conspirators when one commits an act in the State that is central to carrying out the conspiracy.  It is a theory oft-invoked but rarely satisfied.  And, as this decision demonstrates, it is a theory that could be subject to some abuse by a clever litigant.  In this case, the evidence ultimately showed that the plaintiff misled the Court by claiming to be the victim of a Delaware-based conspiracy, when, in fact, the plaintiff was the architect of the very wrongdoing used to advance his conspiracy theory.  Thus, some ten years into the litigation, the non-resident defendant was dismissed from the case based on a lack of personal jurisdiction.