Case Law Update: DVPO and Personal Jurisdiction

By Rebecca K. Watts 

Mucha v. Wagner, decided COA June 2, 2020 (DVPO, personal jurisdiction)

Plaintiff and Defendant had been in a romantic relationship until Plaintiff ended it and asked Defendant not to contact her again. At the time their relationship ended, Plaintiff was a college student in South Carolina and Defendant lived in Connecticut.  At some point after the breakup, Plaintiff moved to North Carolina. On her first day living in North Carolina, Defendant called her 28 times. Plaintiff filed a complaint for a domestic violence protective order. Defendant appeared solely to contest personal jurisdiction. The trial court denied Defendant’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and entered a DVPO against Defendant. Defendant appealed.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s denial of the motion to dismiss. In reaching this decision, the Court of Appeals noted that although Defendant may not have specifically known that Plaintiff had moved to North Carolina, he did know that she was a college student, that her semester had ended, and that it was reasonable that she would move somewhere after the end of the semester. Defendant’s conduct was sufficient enough “for him to reasonably anticipate being haled into court wherever [Plaintiff] resided when she received the calls.”