The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects individuals from the unlawful exercise of power. Among other things, it protects individuals from being sued in states where the individual has no connection; a state court may only obtain specific jurisdiction over a defendant if that defendant has sufficient "minimum contacts" with the State consistent with "traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice." In the context of product liability and aviation cases, the application of this rule has been far from clear. For instance, when the product of an out-of-state manufacturer makes its way into a state, and allegedly injures a resident of that state, what amount of contact is necessary to subject the out-of-state manufacturer to jurisdiction in that state’s courts? This Alert discusses this rule.
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