Split Over Impact of Bristol-Myers Squibb on Class Actions Deepens

Carlton Fields
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Carlton Fields

Bakov v. Consolidated World Travel, Inc. is the latest salvo in the conflict over whether the Supreme Court’s personal jurisdiction decision in Bristol-Myers Squibb applies in the class action context. As we have blogged in the past, Bristol-Myers concerned claims in California state court made by non-California residents, claims that were not sufficiently connected to California to qualify for specific personal jurisdiction on their own. The Court held that California state courts could not exercise specific jurisdiction over those claims even if they were packaged with claims by California residents in a mass tort action.

Bristol-Myers left two significant questions undecided: (1) whether the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause imposes the same jurisdictional limits on federal courts that the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause imposes on state courts; and (2) whether Bristol-Myers’ jurisdictional limit jurisdictional limit on state court mass actions also applies to federal court class actions.

Bakov is a Northern District of Illinois decision that answers yes to both of those questions. The plaintiffs in Bakov alleged that the defendant cruise line directed another company to place calls to the plaintiffs without their consent in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. They sought certification of a nationwide class action. The court certified a class of Illinois residents but refused to certify a nationwide class, holding that under Bristol-Myers the court did not have specific jurisdiction over the claims of non-Illinois residents. Courts have reached sharply different conclusions as to whether the jurisdictional limit set forth in Bristol-Myers applies to class actions. Bakov joins the minority in concluding it does.

Bakov v. Consolidated World Travel, Inc., No. 15 C 2980, 2019 WL 1294659 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 21, 2019).

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