November 2021

Personal Jurisdiction: Time for a New Pair of (International) Shoes?

Business litigation counsel David Kent authored an article for the fall 2021 edition of the American Bar Association’s (ABA) TortSource publication in which he explains the possibility that a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision may indicate an openness to reconsider how to analyze personal jurisdiction.

First, Kent outlines the Court’s recent ruling in Ford Motor Co. v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court, which upheld the jurisdiction of state courts over nonresident corporate defendants. He further explained that personal jurisdiction had historically been discussed in terms of minimum contacts and traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice, based on International Shoe Co. v. Washington, yielding conversations about general versus specific jurisdiction.

Kent also details two approaches to specific jurisdiction — “arise out of” or “be related to” — and addresses whether courts will now broaden the view of specific jurisdiction by focusing on a defendant’s general activities in the state, even if unconnected to the case before the court. Overall, he concludes, “Ford Motor Co. may well indicate that the Supreme Court is ready to try on some new ‘personal jurisdiction shoes’ to replace the time-worn footwear of International Shoe.”

The full article is available for ABA members.

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