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Hardell v. Vanzyl (CA1/4 A168113 6/20/24) Board-CEO Sexual Harassment, Assault and Battery | Jurisdiction

Cailin Hardell appeals from the trial court’s order granting Adrian Vanzyl’s motion to quash.  Hardell sued Vanzyl, along with Waleed Mohsen and Blumberg Capital, for sexual assault and battery, sexual harassment, and retaliation, among other claims, relating to an incident in Miami, Florida in March 2022.  Vanzyl moved to quash service of summons of the first amended complaint, arguing that, as a non-resident defendant, he had insufficient contacts with California for the trial court to exercise either specific or general personal jurisdiction over him.  The trial court agreed, and also denied Hardell’s request to conduct jurisdictional discovery.

On appeal, Hardell argues that the trial court erred in finding that Vanzyl was not domiciled or continuously and systematically present in California in March 2022, and otherwise that Vanzyl had insufficient suit-related contacts with California.  She also argues that the court should have granted her request for jurisdictional discovery.  We conclude that the connection between Hardell’s claims against Vanzyl and his contacts with California is too attenuated to support specific jurisdiction.  We also conclude, however, that the trial court erred in failing to consider whether it could exercise general jurisdiction over Vanzyl notwithstanding its finding that he was not domiciled in California in March 2022, and that it abused its discretion in denying Hardell’s request for discovery.  On remand, Hardell must be allowed to conduct limited discovery addressing whether the trial court may exercise general jurisdiction over Vanzyl.