Limited appearance

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A limited appearance is a term used in the United States law of civil procedure to describe a civil defendant’s appearance in a quasi in rem action in the court of another state to dispute liability to the limited extent of the value of the property seized by that court. This strategy allows the defendant to dispute only that amount seized, though this amount is less than the total amount in controversy, thus limiting his personal liability. Before the advent of this procedural device, a defendant faced the dilemma of either allowing his property to be seized with no defense and sold at sheriff’s sale to partially satisfy the claim against him or, on the other hand, to appear in court to dispute the claim but in the process expose himself to the full in personam jurisdiction of the court and therefore the entire amount in controversy.

The limited appearance may be coupled with a special appearance, allowing the defendant to first dispute the personal jurisdiction of the court over the defendant, and then only if necessary disputing the limited amount in controversy.

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