On January 14, 2014, the Supreme Court decided Daimler AG v. Bauman, No. 11-965—a closely watched personal jurisdiction case. In an opinion authored by Justice Ginsburg for eight Justices, the Court reversed the Ninth Circuit’s holding that a German company was subject to general personal jurisdiction in California, based on the California contacts of the company’s Delaware subsidiary. Justice Sotomayor concurred in the judgment.
Until recently, the Supreme Court has infrequently engaged with issues of personal jurisdiction. Prior to the October 2010 Term, the Supreme Court had not significantly addressed personal jurisdiction since 1987, when the Court issued a splintered decision in Asahi Metal Industry Co. v. Superior Court of Cal., Solano Cty., 480 U.S. 102 (1987). During the 2010 Term, the Supreme Court decided two cases that effectively limited the ability of state courts to assert personal jurisdiction over foreign defendants: Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations v. Brown and J. McIntyre Machinery v. Nicastro. In Goodyear, the Supreme Court explained there is general jurisdiction when a business is “at home” in the forum State. 131 S. Ct. 2846, 2887 (2011). Bauman further closes the door on efforts to extend personal jurisdiction against foreign corporations.
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