Can I Be Sued in New York? I Don’t Even Live There. My Business Is Not There Either.



Navigating the intricate web of legal jurisdiction can be perplexing for businesses and individuals alike. If you find yourself questioning whether you or your business can be summoned to court in New York when neither is based there, you’re not alone. It’s a common query with significant implications.

Establishing Personal Jurisdiction in New York Courts

To simplify, New York courts must have what is termed “personal jurisdiction” over you or your business to require you to appear before them. This is based on your or your business’s relationship to the state, governed by specific legal standards.

Understanding Specific and General Jurisdiction

There are two types of jurisdiction. First, there’s “specific jurisdiction,” which concerns itself with particular acts you may have taken in New York. For example, if you, through your business dealings or personal actions, commit a tort (a legal wrong) in the state or engage in transactions significantly connected to New York, you might be called to answer in a New York court.

Then we have “general jurisdiction,” which is broader. For a New York court to claim this over your business, your dealings in New York would need to be so frequent and substantial that, in a way, your business is almost “at home” in the state.

Legal Standards for Extending Jurisdiction in New York Courts

The courts take these principles seriously and do not extend jurisdiction lightly. Mere allegations of agency (claiming someone acted on your behalf in New York) or conspiracy are generally not enough. There must be solid proof of control and benefit from the alleged New York connections.

Notably, in December 2023, New York Governor Kathy Hochul vetoed legislation that would have broadened New York State jurisdiction over any business registered in New York, even if they are not in New York State. In contrast, Pennsylvania for example, does allow state court jurisdiction more broadly and liberally over out-of-state businesses.


In conclusion, unless a business or individual has clear, strong ties to New York—either through systematic business operations or specific, significant actions connected to the state—it’s generally unlikely for New York courts to claim jurisdiction.

For those facing litigation, it’s always prudent to consult with legal counsel to understand the nuances of your situation. Personal jurisdiction is a complex matter and having an expert dissect your connection to the state is essential. Remember, the law is all about the specifics, and each case can unfold differently under its scrutiny.

If you are facing similar concerns or if you have questions about your business dispute, please feel free to contact us here. We have many years of experience handling such matters and will be able to assist you in resolving the dispute.

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