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Personal Jurisdiction over out-of-state law firm

The federal district court in Rhode Island has found a Texas law firm subject to personal jurisdiction in Rhode Island where it agreed to represent a Rhode Island resident on Federal Tort Claims Act claims against the Veteran's Administration arising from alleged medical malpractice at the VA hospital in Rhode Island. Plaintiff sued the law firm for legal practice allegedly arising from its representation on the FTCA claim. Plaintiff found defendant law firm through its website. He signed a letter of representation and a contract with the law firm while in Rhode Island. Defendants submitted claims to the VA hospital. Judge Smith noted that if the law firm had been required to file suit it would have done so in Rhode Island and Rhode Island law would have applied to the claim. He distinguished a First Circuit decision, Sawtelle v. Farrell, where much of the law firm's activity in that case occurred outside the forum jurisdiction and the forum's law would not have governed the client's claim. Judge Smith reviewed a number of cases the parties cited and found a common theme: there is personal jurisdiction over the law firm where the legal malpractice claim is filed in the same jurisdiction that was the forum for the original action serving as the predicate for the legal malpractice claim. Dennett v. Archuleta, C.A. 12-424-S (D.R.I. Jan. 11, 2013). http://www.sfandllaw.com/Practice-Areas/Business-Commercial-Litigation.shtml

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