Although Delaware recognizes the conspiracy theory as a basis for personal jurisdiction, in Reid v. Siniscalchi, C.A. No. 2874-VCS (Del. Ch. Jan. 30, 2018), the court found insufficient elements of that basis for imposing jurisdiction, after extensive discovery was permitted.  This short overview of this 44-page decision will focus on the bullet points that would be of the most practical application to the widest number of people, and which may trigger the interest of those who might find the opinion worth reading in full. Three prior decisions in this case, including a Supreme Court reversal, which provide deeper background, were highlighted on these pages here, here and here.

  • The court discusses the two-step process to determine whether there is a proper basis for personal jurisdiction. First is an analysis based on the Delaware long-arm statute. Second is a review of the requirements of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. See page 36.
  • The multiple elements that must be satisfied for establishing the conspiracy theory of personal jurisdiction are discussed at pages 37 and 38.
  • In sum, the court found that there was no personal jurisdiction over an Italian company or an Italian resident based on the conspiracy theory of jurisdiction because the prerequisites were not satisfied. The court remarked on several occasions how unfortunate it was that this case lasted for more than ten years based on assertions of jurisdiction that were not rooted in fact.

The basic facts of the case involve entities and individuals resident in the U.S., Italy and Russia. In connection with the unusually long procedural duration of the case, the court nominated this matter as a candidate for the Jarndyce award which is the name of a case in the Charles Dickens novel, Bleak House, that lasted for generations.

The court had harsh words for the facts on which the claims for conspiracy were asserted as a basis for personal jurisdiction: “myth; fantasy; sham; fiction; and falsehood.” The length of this litigation prior to being dismissed on summary judgment via this ruling, was–through no fault of the court—the result of, according to this decision, false premises that were revealed in discovery that lasted many years.

By coincidence, as an aside, the conspiracy theory as a basis of personal jurisdiction was recognized and articulated in Delaware several decades ago in a decision that also involved an entity that was formed in Italy. See Istituto Bancario Italiano, SpA v. Hunter Engineering Co., Inc., 449 A.2d 210 (Del. 1982).