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Introduction; Jurisdiction Over the Parties or Things

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Personal jurisdiction: 
Personal jurisdiction gives a court the authority to determine the rights and liabilities of a person or entity, such as a corporation or partnership, involved in a lawsuit.

In rem jurisdiction: 
In rem jurisdiction gives a court the authority to determine title to an object or real property. It is most often implicated when the possible claimants are unknown.

Quasi in rem jurisdiction: 
Similar to in rem jurisdiction; it also gives a court the authority to determine title to property, but it is implicated when the claimants are known.

This chapter addresses two of the three prerequisites a trial court must satisfy before it can entertain a plaintiff’s claim. The three prerequisites are: 

  1. jurisdiction over the parties or things (usually referred to as personal jurisdiction);
  2. jurisdiction over the subject matter; and
  3. proper venue. 

The first two prerequisites are covered in this chapter; the last is discussed in the next chapter.

Personal jurisdiction is the court’s authority to require someone to come into its authority. Subject matter jurisdiction is the court’s authority to hear a specific kind of claim. 

Regardless of what type of claim it is, whether it is a claim brought by a plaintiff, a counterclaim brought by a defendant, or a cross claim brought by a co-defendant, the court must have jurisdiction over both the parties or things and over the subject matter of the claim in order to properly exercise its authority over the case. 

There are three types of personal jurisdiction: jurisdiction over the person; in rem jurisdiction and quasi in rem jurisdiction

Jurisdiction over the person (also sometimes simply referred to as personal jurisdiction) is jurisdiction over the persons or entities, such as corporations or partnerships, involved in the lawsuit. 

In rem jurisdiction is implicated when an object or piece of land is the subject of the legal action.

Quasi in rem jurisdiction is invoked for the purpose of forcing a person or entity to submit itself to the jurisdiction of the court by asserting jurisdiction over the property of that person.

If the court does not have jurisdiction over the parties or things, the court must dismiss the case. See Rule 12(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“FRCP”). See also Swaim v. Moltan Co., 73 F.3d 711, 718 (7th Cir. 1996).

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