Supreme Court Considers Foreign Manufacturer's Challenge on Jurisdiction

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The United States Supreme Court is considering a fundamental issue for businesses whose products are sold in the United States: where can those businesses be sued? That is the central question in a product liability case that could either reinforce prior limits on where and if a foreign corporation may be sued in the United States, or could radically change the rules due to increased globalization of business. The U.S. Supreme Court has not taken a case focusing on such issues since 1987, nearly a quarter century ago. Through its upcoming opinions on this case and another that raises similar issues, the Supreme Court is likely to clarify this area of law. Regardless of the outcome, the decisions could have dramatic effects on businesses that sell products in or into the United States.

The legal interpretation at issue is “personal jurisdiction,” which simply means a court’s power over a particular defendant. More precisely, at issue in this case is “specific jurisdiction,” meaning a claim that is based on the defendant’s contacts with that specific state.

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