Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2085015
 


 



Letting the Perfect Become the Enemy of the Good: The Relatedness Problem in Personal Jurisdiction


Robin Effron


Brooklyn Law School

June 15, 2012

Lewis & Clark Law Review, Vol. 16, No. 3, p. 867, 2012
Brooklyn Law School, Legal Studies Paper No. 283

Abstract:     
The Supreme Court’s recent decision in J. McIntyre Machinery v. Nicastro had the potential to resolve nearly two decades of confusion in personal jurisdiction doctrine. Confronted with the earlier Asahi plurality opinions, which had established competing “stream of commerce” theories, the Court produced a fractured 4-2-3 opinion that resolved little beyond holding that the New Jersey courts could not exercise personal jurisdiction over the defendant in the instant case.

In this Article, written for a paper Symposium, I consider one dimension the doctrinal deadlock that the Supreme Court produced in Nicastro: the concept of specific jurisdiction itself. In recent cases, most notably in Nicastro, the Court has become obsessed with the general and abstract contours of the relationship between a defendant and the forum state. However, one of the most important aspects of the distinction between general and specific jurisdiction is the relatedness between the lawsuit and the forum state. In conceptualizing relatedness at the highest level of generality, the Supreme Court has characterized the relatedness problem in a way that is nearly impossible to answer in any concrete case that comes before it. In other words, the Supreme Court has let the perfect become the enemy of the good. Instead of producing a flexible, workable, if not entirely global or perfect rule, the Court has given the lower courts hardly any rule at all.

This Article suggests that in order to break the stream of commerce stalemate, the Supreme Court should refocus specific jurisdiction doctrine so that it produces concrete answers to the two dimensions of the relatedness problem. It further argues that Justice Brennan’s stream of commerce position from Asahi remains the most viable path for specific jurisdiction analysis. The expansive scope of the Brennan position fits well with modern understandings of commerce and the domestic and international sale and distribution of goods. Moreover, in tandem with a robust fairness analysis, the stream of commerce position will allow courts to examine the two dimensions of relatedness in a useful, concrete, and doctrinally consistent manner.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 38

Keywords: civil procedure, personal jurisdiction, specific jurisdiction, joinder of parties, J. McIntyre Machinery v. Nicastro, Goodyear v. Brown, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, due process, relatedness, commonalities

Accepted Paper Series


Download This Paper

Date posted: June 16, 2012 ; Last revised: August 9, 2012

Suggested Citation

Effron, Robin, Letting the Perfect Become the Enemy of the Good: The Relatedness Problem in Personal Jurisdiction (June 15, 2012). Lewis & Clark Law Review, Vol. 16, No. 3, p. 867, 2012; Brooklyn Law School, Legal Studies Paper No. 283. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2085015

Contact Information

Robin Effron (Contact Author)
Brooklyn Law School ( email )
250 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
United States

Feedback to SSRN


Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 449
Downloads: 66
Download Rank: 195,059

© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo4 in 0.344 seconds