Exploring the Limits of Specific Personal Jurisdiction
46 Pages Posted: 15 Jan 2011
Date Written: 2001
During the nearly two decades since the Supreme Court recognized a bifurcated doctrine of personal jurisdiction, it has made little progress in defining the characteristics that distinguish general and specific jurisdiction. One of the issues that has repeatedly evaded the Court’s attention is the scope of specific jurisdiction. While we know that the scope of general jurisdiction extends to any suit brought against a defendant, and specific jurisdiction is limited to “suits” that arise out of the defendant’s contacts with the forum, the precise contours of specific jurisdiction remain unclear. In recognition of this theoretical deficiency, this article examines a particular category of cases - those involving jurisdictionally insufficient counts that arise out of the same factual event as jurisdictionally sufficient counts brought against the same defendant - to illuminate the theoretical question surrounding the scope of specific jurisdiction.
The article concludes that in most instances there will be no constitutional or statutory impediment to the federal court’s exercise of pendent personal jurisdiction regarding jurisdictionally insufficient counts that arise out of the same constitutional case as a jurisdictionally sufficient anchor count, whether the basis for jurisdiction over the anchor count is a nationwide service of process statute or a state long-arm statute. Finding constitutional support for the exercise of pendent personal jurisdiction pursuant to the Due Process Clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, the article suggests that there is no constitutional limitation that would require federal or state courts to define specific jurisdiction narrowly according to particular legal theories supporting recovery. Rather, the Due Process Clauses in both the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments support a broad interpretation of specific jurisdiction that would allow a federal or state court to adjudicate the entire constitutional case brought against a defendant.
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