Can I Sue in the US if the Case is From Another Country?

Where Can a Plaintiff Sue in an International Case

Question: I will summarize this question, because it contained quite a bit of personal information. Essentially, the person wanted to know, if they have a case based out of Saudi Arabia, with a defendant who lives in Chad, can they sue the person who lives in Chad in the US or the UK.

Answer: The answer to the question is, no. In order for a court to hear a case, it must have jurisdiction. There are two types of jurisdiction: personal and subject matter. Personal jurisdiction means power over the defendant. Subject matter jurisdiction means the general power to hear the case. If a harmful act occurred in Saudi Arabia by a defendant who lives in Chad, the personal jurisdiction will either be in Saudi Arabia or Chad (or perhaps both.) In addition, neither the US nor the UK would have subject matter jurisdiction over the cases. They would not have the power to resolve the dispute because it has nothing to do with either country. It is not possible to take a matter that has no connection to the US or the UK and bring a suit against a defendant who has no connection to the US or the UK in one of those countries.

Jurisdiction in the United States

The same is true here in the US when a defendant lives in Pennsylvania and a plaintiff lives in California. Let’s say the plaintiff came to Pennsylvania and the defendant caused a car accident between the two. The plaintiff would need to sue in Pennsylvania. The event occurred in Pennsylvania and the defendant lives here. Therefore, the Pennsylvania courts have jurisdiction over both the defendant and the matter. The plaintiff’s lawyer would also have to sue in the correct county. A case between two people from different states in the US, assuming the suit is for an amount over 75,000, may be brought in federal court in the appropriate federal district. This is called diversity jurisdiction. But if the case was between two Pennsylvania drivers, the suit would be brought in state court in the county in which the accident occurred.

In the end, my suggestion to the asker is that they speak with an attorney in Saudi Arabia and Chad to find out the best way forward.

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