The Supreme Court Again Revisits (And May Rein In) Personal Jurisdiction: Two Cases Now Up Next Term

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On April 22, 2013, the Supreme Court granted review in another personal jurisdiction case: DaimlerChrysler AG v. Bauman, No. 11-965 (cert. granted Apr. 22, 2013). The question presented in DaimlerChrysler is “whether it violates due process for a court to exercise general personal jurisdiction over a foreign corporation based solely on the fact that an indirect corporate subsidiary performs services on behalf of the defendant in the forum State.” And earlier this Term, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in a specific personal jurisdiction case—Walden v. Fiore, No. 12-574 (cert. granted Mar. 4, 2013). The question presented in Walden is “[w]hether due process permits a court to exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant whose sole ‘contact’ with the forum State is his knowledge that the plaintiff has connections to that State.” Both DaimlerChrysler and Walden arise from the Ninth Circuit. They will be argued in fall 2013, with a decision expected no later than the end of June 2014.

Both of these cases are of significant interest to businesses, as personal jurisdiction delimits a court’s ability to hale a defendant into court and subject that defendant to the court’s power and punishment. The Supreme Court has frequently declined to engage in issues of personal jurisdiction. Indeed, until its pair of decisions during the October 2010 Term, the Supreme Court had not significantly addressed personal jurisdiction since 1987, when the Court splintered in its decision governing specific personal jurisdiction in Asahi Metal Industry Co. v. Superior Court of Cal., Solano Cty., 480 U.S. 102 (1987).

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