Henry Law Firm v. Atalla, No. 19-1391 (8th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motions for dismissal and for summary judgment, granting summary judgment to the law firm. The court applied a five-factor test to determine the sufficiency of defendant's contacts and held that, when all of the circumstances are viewed in the aggregate, defendant had fair warning that he could be subject to jurisdiction in Arkansas. In this case, defendant's contacts with Arkansas involved more than just his guaranty; the language of the contract provided for Cuker to perform its obligations in the Western District of Arkansas; and, as personal guarantor of Cuker's performance, it was reasonable and foreseeable for defendant to anticipate being haled into that same court if Cuker failed to perform.
The court rejected defendant's claim that his personal guaranty is unenforceable as a matter of law because his obligations are not adequately specified. The court held that the express terms of the legal services agreement evidence an intent to hold defendant liable to the same extent as Cuker's liability. Finally, the court applied state, not federal elements of estoppel in diversity cases, and held that the district's reasoning and the record supported equitable estoppel.