Defense Distributed v. Grewal, No. 19-50723 (5th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs filed suit challenging the efforts of New Jersey's Attorney General and others to thwart plaintiffs' distribution of materials related to the 3D printing of firearms, alleging infringement of plaintiffs' First Amendment rights and state law claims. The district court granted the Attorney General's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, relying on Stroman Realty, Inc. v. Wercinski, 513 F.3d 476 (5th Cir. 2008).
The Fifth Circuit held that the Attorney General has established sufficient minimum contacts with Texas to subject him to the jurisdiction of Texas' courts. The court held that Stroman is distinguishable from this case in at least two key respects: first, many of plaintiffs' claims are based on the Attorney General's cease-and-desist letter; and second, the Attorney General's assertion of legal authority is much broader than the public official in Stroman. Furthermore, the Attorney General failed to timely raise arguments regarding whether judgment in plaintiffs favor would offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice. The court applied the principles discussed in Wien Air Alaska, Inc. v. Brandt, 195 F.3d 208 (5th Cir. 1999), and Calder v. Jones, 465 U.S. 783, 104 S. Ct. 1482 (1984), and held that jurisdiction over the Attorney General is proper. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings.