Personal Jurisdiction: Shams v. Hassan, No. 12-0036 (Iowa 2013)

Issue: Whether the exercise of personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant to a lawsuit filed in Iowa that alleged misappropriated funds from an Iowa bank account violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Facts: Appellant Samir Shams and Appellee Sona Hassan are brother and sister. Shams was a resident of Iowa, with two children who resided in Iowa and one child who resided in Arizona. Hassan has been a resident of Maryland for many years and had not visisted Iowa since 1983. In 2003, Shams accepted an employment opportunity in Iraq. Before leaving Iowa, Shams set up a checking account at a bank in Des Moines for the purpose of depositing funds to provide for his children in his absence. Shams claimed that Hassan verbally agreed to use the account to provide for his children and pay his bills. He signed several blank checks and delivered them to Hassan in Maryland. Instead of using the checks to provide for the children, Hassan used the checks to withdraw funds, totaling $271,773.93, from the Iowa checking account for personal use.

Shams filed suit against Hassan in Iowa district court for breach of contract, conversion, bad faith, fraud, and breach of fiduciary duty. Hassan moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. The district court granted the motion to dismiss and the court of appeals affirmed the decision.

Holding: The exercise of personal jurisdiction does not offend the Due Process Clause in this case. The injury in this case occurred almost totally in Iowa and, under the Calder test, Iowa was where the primary effect of the tortious act occurred. Therefore, sufficient minimum contact existed to justify the exercise of jurisdiction over Hassan.

For a complete copy of the Court’s opinion, click here