A Critical Appraisal of the Supreme Court’s Decision in J. Mcintyre Machinery, Ltd. v. Nicastro

33 Pages Posted: 4 Oct 2011 Last revised: 5 Oct 2011

See all articles by Allan Ides

Allan Ides

Loyola Law School Los Angeles

Date Written: October 4, 2011


This Article presents a critical assessment of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in J. McIntyre Machinery, Ltd. v. Nicastro. The focus of the Article is less on doctrine than it is on the Court’s collective lack of craftsmanship in rendering a decision. At issue in that J. McIntyre was whether New Jersey courts could exercise personal jurisdiction over a foreign manufacturer of industrial machines, one of whose machines was sold in New Jersey, where it allegedly injured an employee who was using it in the normal course of business. The jurisdictional issue revolved around the “stream of commerce” doctrine. U.S. courts have used that doctrine for several decades as a basis for justifying the exercise of personal jurisdiction in products liability suits brought against out-of-state manufacturers whose products are sold in the forum state and cause injury there. The law in this critical area, however, has been in a state of confusion for many years. The Supreme Court granted certiorari in J. McIntyre, ostensibly to ameliorate that confusion. The J. McIntyre Court issued no majority opinion, and the three opinions that it did issue (a plurality, a concurrence, and a dissent) exacerbated rather than ameliorated the doctrinal confusion. Moreover, each of the opinions, to varying degrees, demonstrated a deplorable level of judicial competence well below that which we can rightfully expect from Supreme Court justices. Parts I-III of this article set the foundation for Part IV’s critical assessment of the Court’s performance.

Suggested Citation

Ides, Allan, A Critical Appraisal of the Supreme Court’s Decision in J. Mcintyre Machinery, Ltd. v. Nicastro (October 4, 2011). Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review, Forthcoming, Loyola-LA Legal Studies Paper No. 2011-39, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1938472

Allan Ides (Contact Author)

Loyola Law School Los Angeles ( email )

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