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Blessing v. Prosser

Decided: May 25, 1976.


Fritz, Seidman and Milmed. The opinion of the court was delivered by Fritz, P.J.A.D. Seidman, J.A.D. (dissenting).


Plaintiffs' complaint in tort against defendant was dismissed below on the ground that New Jersey did not have personal jurisdiction over defendant. They appeal, asserting that defendant's advertising in travel books which the American Automobile Association (AAA) furnished without cost to its members was a sufficient "contact" to invoke so-called "long-arm" service and personal jurisdiction.

Plaintiffs urge us to examine the nature of the advertising thus appearing. Having done that, we understand their anxiety and petition in this regard, for careful consideration of the total circumstances involved conduces to the view that advertising of this nature does indeed exceed the "minimal contact" necessary for long-arm jurisdiction.

Significant among these circumstances is that the advertising thus appearing is substantially more than a solicitation of business. In addition to being all of that, it is accompanied by AAA assurances that "Official Appointment" listings, of

which defendant was one, are of the one-out-of-seven-seen which meets high AAA standards, that each has been "personally" measured and that the therein published rates and services are guaranteed by the endorsed facility to AAA members even as against a change in rates between publications of the volume. Beyond this such officially appointed hotel, motel, resort or restaurant must also pay a "modest annual fee." The persuasive attraction of the advertising itself is enhanced by the affirmative endorsement and guarantee of the prestigious American Automobile Association. The guarantees of the presentation sounding more in contract than anything else, this is no "mere inclusion of an advertisement in a publication," as defendant argues.

The following appears in Restatement, Conflict of Laws 2d, ยง 37 at 156 (1971):*fn1

Causing Effects in State by Act Done Elsewhere

A state has power to exercise judicial jurisdiction over an individual who causes effects in the state by an act done elsewhere with respect to any cause of action arising from these effects unless the nature of the effects and of the individual's relationship to the state make the exercise of such jurisdiction unreasonable.

We observe that this statement does not even require that the "effects" be causatively intended. It needs only that they occur. If this is the law in New Jersey, as we believe it to be, then a fortiori do we have jurisdiction where, as here, the advertising was by its very nature intended to and did in fact cause "effects" in this State. This "effects" concept was recognized in Avdel Corp. v. Mecure , 58 N.J. 264 at 268 (1971), in which our Supreme Court also observed that, "we will allow out-of-state service to the uttermost limits permitted by the United States Constitution."

Defendant urges that most of the cases defining the long-arm reach from New Jersey have "a much more substantial

connection with New Jersey than the case at bar." The truth of this statement does not diminish the proposition that all that is required is "minimum contacts with it [the forum] such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend 'traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.'" International Shoe Co. v. Washington , 326 U.S. 310, 316, 66 S. Ct. 154, 158, 90 L. Ed. 95 (1945). We are satisfied that no such offense results from the circumstances here.

Nor does the fact that previous cases have, for the most part, involved a physical intrusion into New Jersey beyond seductive advertising militate against our policy, accurately described (in a totally different context) in Foris v. Foris , 103 N.J. Super. 316, 323 (Ch. Div. 1968), as one designed "to obtain, within constitutional limits, jurisdiction over a party defendant in the commercial world in the interest of protecting its citizens." Noticed there also was "the State's interest in the commercial sphere to protect its citizens by diminishing the harsh and arbitrary effect of state boundaries."

The policy pronouncements and the standards implicit in Roche v. Floral Rental Corp. , 95 N.J. Super. 555 (App. Div. 1967), aff'd o.b. 51 N.J. 26 (1968), which also recognized the wisdom of Phillips v. Anchor Hocking Glass Corp. , 100 Ariz. 251, 413 P. 2d 732 (Sup. Ct. 1966), are here achieved. We see no valid distinction, in a case where persuasion in New Jersey by a purveyor of goods or services induces our citizenry to the acceptance of those goods or services, based upon where the use occurs. Nor do we see any policy reason to draw a line because a printing press can be shipped to New Jersey but a New York resort cannot. See VanEeuwen v. Heidelberg Eastern, Inc. , 124 N.J. Super. 251 (App. Div. 1973). Cf. Young v. Gilbert , 121 N.J. Super. 78 (Law Div. 1972).

Reversed and remanded for further proceedings consistent with the foregoing.

SEIDMAN, J.A.D. (dissenting). The majority would reverse the order entered below dismissing the complaint*fn1 and remand the matter for further proceedings. They conclude that on the facts here present there has been a sufficient showing of minimum contact with this forum by defendant to ...

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