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This article discusses CPLR section 302(a)(1) as applied by the New York State Court of Appeals in Paterno v. Laser Spine Institute. The Paterno Court failed to properly apply a statutory jurisdictional analysis by conflating it with a due process inquiry. Also, the Court unnecessarily balanced the interests of the Empire State's citizens in having a forum for access to justice with unjustified policy fears of potential costs to the state from assertions of in personam jurisdiction. Furthermore, the Court's policy focus4 on the protection of medical doctors from lawsuits and the prevention of “floodgate” litigation which would adversely affect the medical profession was not justified by the record and created poor precedent for subsequent judicial application of the state's long-arm statute.

This article will examine CPLR section 302(a)(1), under Paterno v. Laser Spine Institute and some of its predecessors, to demonstrate that sometimes overarching policy concerns get in the way of a strict statutory analysis under CPLR section 302(a)(1). We analyze how the Court of Appeals in Paterno conflated the jurisdictional basis and due process analyses and determine that the Court, based on a faulty statutory analysis, erroneously decided that there was no statutory jurisdiction.

Our article is divided into six parts. Part II briefly discusses the history of the CPLR and the manner of obtaining jurisdiction through Sections 301 and 302, focusing mainly on long-arm jurisdiction. Part III discusses and analyzes leading cases, which involve the application of CPLR 302 in obtaining personal jurisdiction. Part IV discusses a recent case, Paterno v. Laser Spine Institute, in great detail, and Part V engages in a critical analysis of Paterno with reference to a similar case, Grimaldi v. Guinn. Part VI addresses policy considerations and Part VII concludes with a discussion of how the Paterno Court entangled its jurisdictional analysis and where the Court may be headed with its future application of CPLR section 302(a)(1).