When is an out-of-state company or a person able to sue civilly in Arizona or be sued civilly in Arizona? What are the venue and jurisdiction statutes? To be able to file a lawsuit in Arizona, individuals must find a court in Arizona that has venue; there must be personal jurisdiction over the defendants; and the forum must not be, on balance, inconvenient.

Arizona’s venue statutes are located at Title 12, Chapter 4, Art. 1 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, A.R.S. § 12-401 et seq.   Generally, a case can be brought in any county where any defendant resides. If an action concerns a contract, venue is proper where the contract or debt was incurred.  Out of state defendants who entered into a contract can be sued in any county. Property actions must be brought in the county where the real property is located.  Venue us also waive-able, meaning that a lawsuit brought in the wrong county in Arizona can remain in that county if there is no objection.  Generally, if there is venue in a state court in Arizona, venue is appropriate in one of our federal district courts also. 28 U.S.C. § 1390, et seq.

To have personal jurisdiction over a defendant, Arizona’s long-arm rule allows for assertion of jurisdiction consistent with federal constitutional due process. Ariz. R. Civ. P. 4.2(a).  An Arizona judge’s Arizona Attorney article “Personal Jurisdiction in the Internet Age” is a valuable primer on Arizona personal jurisdiction.  Although personal jurisdiction in Arizona is broad, it is not unlimited.  The law is clear that personal jurisdiction is not created merely because a plaintiff is an Arizona company.  G.T. Helicopters, Inc. v. Helicopters, Ltd., 135 Ariz. 380, 383, 661 P.2d 230, 233 (App. 1983); Molybdenum Corp. of America v. Superior Court, In and for the County of Pima, 17 Ariz.App. 354, 498 P.2d 166 (1972).  The test for jurisdiction in state court is the same in federal court.

To be a plaintiff in a civil action, corporations or entities must meet an additional requirement – foreign entities are not “permitted to maintain a proceeding in any court in this state until it is authorized to transact business.”  A.R.S. § 10-1502.  The same is true of limited liability companies.  A.R.S.  § 29-809.  However, registering as a foreign company “after the action has been commenced is sufficient to enable the corporation to maintain the action.”  Capin v. S & H Packing Co., 130 Ariz. 441, 442, 636 P.2d 1223, 1224 (App. 1981).

If an action is brought in a technically proper venue against defendants over whom the courts have personal jurisdiction, a case may still be transferred to another venue if the Arizona venue is demonstrably inconvenient.  This is the doctrine of forum non conveniens.  Coonley & Coonley v. Turck, 173 Ariz. 527, 532, 844 P.2d 1177, 1182 (App. 1993).

If you have questions about whether you can bring an action (or whether you should be subject to a lawsuit in Arizona) call one of the Mesa, Maricopa County, Arizona civil litigation attorneys at Udall Shumway PLC in the Phoenix area.


This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Venue and Jurisdiction, or any other commercial litigation matters, please feel free to contact Joel E. Sannes at 480.461.5307, or log on to udallshumway.com,  or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.