Case Dismissed: Court Lacked Jurisdiction Over Out-of-State Defendant who was Beneficiary of a New Jersey Estate

The plaintiffs in this case were sisters Ashley Nelson-Guedez and Lyndsay Nelson-Nugent, whose father died in 2007. The plaintiffs’ father, Paul Nelson, predeceased their grandfather. Upon their grandfather’s death, his estate was probated in New Jersey, and Paul’s current wife (Jacqueline Limoli) received Paul’s share of Paul’s father’s estate. Plaintiffs alleged that Jacqueline agreed to give them each one-third of that inheritance (approximately $1 million each). In 2011, Jacqueline executed a document indicating that she “has given or will give $500,000 to Ashley.” The defendant also gave approximately $250,000 to Lyndsay.

In 2015, plaintiffs sued Jacqueline in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, seeking to compel her to fully perform her agreement to transfer funds to them. The defendant, in turn, moved to dismiss the action for lack of personal jurisdiction because Jacqueline was domiciled in Vermont.

At oral argument on the motion to dismiss, plaintiffs argued in favor of the court asserting jurisdiction over Jacqueline. They claimed that the New Jersey courts had jurisdiction over Jacqueline because their grandfather’s estate was probated in New Jersey; the alleged promise was made in New Jersey; Jacqueline had made “frequent visits” to New Jersey and communicated with New Jersey residents; and their grandfather’s New Jersey property resulted in a significant portion of the inheritance at issue. Following oral argument, Chancery Judge Katherine R. Dupuis granted the defendant’s motion and dismissed the case, concluding that there were insufficient contacts to justify personal jurisdiction over the defendant.

On appeal, the Appellate Division considered the defendant’s contacts with New Jersey:

In summary, defendant’s contacts with New Jersey were limited, sporadic, and insufficient to establish general jurisdiction. There is no evidence that she sought to avail herself of the benefits and privileges of New Jersey law and thus did not establish specific jurisdiction.

Finding that the facts supported Judge Dupuis’ conclusion that the plaintiffs failed to establish sufficient minimum contacts for jurisdiction to exist, the dismissal was affirmed.

A copy of Nelson-Guedez v. Limoli can be found here –  Nelson-Guedez v. Limoli

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