Court Addresses Questions of Personal Jurisdiction in Civil Suit for Sexual Assault

450px-Yale_Harkness_Tower_2A Connecticut appellate court affirmed the dismissal of a civil lawsuit, Gerena v. Korb, for damages arising from an alleged sexual assault. The court found that New York law applied to the defendant, but that the state’s long-arm jurisdiction statute did not apply. Prior proceedings in the case had also found that, because the underlying incident giving rise to the lawsuit occurred in Connecticut, New York lacked the authority to assert jurisdiction over the defendant.

In 2005, the plaintiff, Alexandra Gerena, and the defendant, Gregory Korb, were students at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Gerena claimed that, at the beginning of their sophomore year that August, she went with Korb to her dorm room, where he allegedly physically and sexually assaulted her. The alleged assault included physical restraint and biting, causing serious injury to Gerena. Gerena and her mother filed suit against Korb and Yale University in Bronx County, New York Supreme Court in April 2007, asserting causes of action for assault, battery, mutliple emotional distress claims, and loss of consortium.

Yale removed the case to federal court the following month, even though neither it nor Korb had received service of the state court summons and complaint. The plaintiffs served Yale with the state court papers in October 2007, one month after the 120-day period for service under federal rules expired. Yale filed a motion to dismiss for inadequate service, or alternatively for transfer to Connecticut. The plaintiffs served a federal summons on Yale in August 2008, and the district judge ordered the case transferred to Connecticut later that month.