February 08, 2016 Articles

The Supreme Court's Clarification on the Scope of Personal Jurisdiction

By Evan P. Moltz

Personal jurisdiction is a fundamental aspect of every case. Without it, the court has no power to enter a judgment for or against a party. The precise boundary of a court's jurisdiction over a defendant has not always been clear even though the standards announced in iconic Supreme Court cases are all too familiar. The Supreme Court's decisions in Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S. Ct. 746 (2014), and Walden v. Fiore, 134 S. Ct. 1115 (2014), provide some clarity on the issue, while also raising some new questions.

Notwithstanding these cases, the broad structure of the personal jurisdiction analysis has remained unchanged. The due process clause still provides the outermost limit for exercising jurisdiction over a nonresident of the forum. And jurisdiction can still either be general or specific. The change, like the devil, is in the details.

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