September 01, 2018 feature

There's No Place Like Home—To Establish Personal Jurisdiction

Recent decisions limit the ability to forum shop

By Anthony R. McClure

One year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court issued two decisions making it tougher for plaintiffs to establish personal jurisdiction over nonresident defendants in the forum of their choice.

Photo Illustration by Elmarie Jara | iStockphoto by Getty Images

Since that time, courts across the country have followed suit. Going forward, plaintiffs will need to either file suit in defendants’ home jurisdictions or in a jurisdiction where plaintiffs can establish that a defendant had litigation-related contacts. And defendants must consider whether seeking dismissal of a case for lack of personal jurisdiction could result in litigating the case in a worse forum.

Personal Jurisdiction Basics: General vs. Specific

Since the Supreme Court’s 1945 landmark decision in International Shoe Co. v. Washington, courts recognize two types of personal jurisdiction: general and specific. “A court with general jurisdiction may hear any claim against that defendant, even if all the incidents underlying the claim occurred in a different State.” Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California. On the other hand, “[i]n order for a state court to exercise specific jurisdiction, ‘the suit’ must ‘aris[e] out of or relat[e] to the defendant’s contacts with the forum.’” Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Last summer, the Supreme Court refined the analysis for both.

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