ADZ Law Case Makes Legal Precedent: A Visitor Who Perpetrates Domestic Violence In California May Be Civilly Tried In California

In a victory for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault who were harmed while visiting California, an ADZ Law client won her appeal in a case certified for publication. The case, Doe v. Damron (2021) ­­­__Cal.Rptr.3d__, 2021 WL 4891856, is available here:

[ https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/A161078.PDF ]

The California Court of Appeal was clear: “California law protects people from domestic violence, holds abusers to account, and provides a remedy for victims of spousal abuse that occurs in the state.”

ADZ Law client Jane Doe and her husband were residents of Georgia who traveled to California for a business conference and vacation. While in California, Mr. Damron is alleged to have raped, strangled, and otherwise battered Jane Doe. Jane Doe, represented by ADZ Law Senior Associate Laura Alvarez, filed a civil action seeking damages for the extensive injuries caused by Mr. Damron’s violence. The trial court dismissed the case for lack of personal jurisdiction.

The ADZ Law team of Laura Alvarez, Paula Vielman-Reeves, Jessica Dayton and Tulin Acikalin appealed the case. Ms. Alvarez orally argued the matter. The defendant claimed that California should not constitutionally exercise jurisdiction because the parties were not residents of California and their divorce took place in Georgia. The Court of Appeal wrote: “Visitors to a state should reasonably expect that, if they assault someone on their travels, they may have to answer for the conduct in the state’s courts.” The case was remanded to the trial court, which is directed to find that California does have personal jurisdiction, so that the case may proceed.

Amicus briefs were filed by Professor Andrew Bradt of University of California, Berkeley School of Law; and the Family Violence Appellate Project and Hinshaw Law, with 19 other individuals and organizations signing on.

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