Many states have statutes establishing that, as a condition of registering to do business in a state, a foreign corporation consents to general personal jurisdiction in that state. Since the Supreme Court’s decision in Daimler AG v. Bauman, 571 U.S. 117 (2014) tightening the scope of the general personal jurisdiction doctrine, lower courts have wrestled with the question of whether these mandatory consent statutes are constitutional and, more broadly, whether registering to do business in a state can be considered consent to general personal jurisdiction in that state.
The Georgia Supreme Court’s September 21st decision in Cooper Tire & Rubber Company v. McCall, 220G1368, may be an important development in the law on this front, and is certainly important for any non-Georgia company registered to do business in the state. In Cooper Tire, the Georgia court directly addressed the question of whether the state’s precedent establishing that registration to do business in the state rendered a foreign corporation subject to general personal jurisdiction in the state survived Daimler and its progeny. The court found that while that precedent was “in tension” with the Supreme Court’s decisions, it “cannot be overruled on federal constitutional grounds.” In other words: in Georgia state courts, registration in Georgia means being subject to general personal jurisdiction.
This area of law is ripe for both further Supreme Court and legislative developments. Corporations registered to do business in multiple states would be well-advised to check those states’ statutes and precedent to determine whether they have consented to general personal jurisdiction by virtue of their registration. And, if so, whether they want to be another test case in the still-developing case law on the question.