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Drop the Shoe: A Law of Personal Jurisdiction

59 Pages Posted: 19 Nov 2011  

Douglas D. McFarland

Mitchell|Hamline School of Law

Date Written: January 1, 2003


In 1877, the Supreme Court decided PENNOYER v. NEFF by borrowing international law and conflict of laws principles to shape a law of personal jurisdiction based on territorial power of the states. PENNOYER held that an unwilling, nonresident defendant must be served within the boundaries of the state. In 1945, the Supreme Court started afresh in INTERNATIONAL SHOE CO. v. WASHINGTON. The jurisdictional reach of a court expanded beyond its state borders. The author argues that the Supreme Court should again start afresh. A workable test placed between the extreme rigidity of PENNOYER and the extreme malleability of INTERNATIONAL SHOE is needed. This article begins in Part II with an examination of the origins of the INTERNATIONAL SHOE minimum contacts test, and then in Part III analyzes and critiques the opinion and the test. Part IV looks at later Supreme Court cases that attempt to refine and apply the test, and Part V looks at the same pattern for other federal courts and state courts. These Parts lead to the conclusion that the minimum contacts test should be abandoned in favor a new law for personal jurisdiction, and so to Part VI, which proposes that the Court should “drop the Shoe.” After an examination in Part VII of whether state boundaries should be considered in the formulation of a new law of personal jurisdiction, the article proposes new law in Part VIII. In order to determine the practicality of the proposed new law, the article applies it to the facts presented in previous Supreme Court personal jurisdiction cases, and to some of today’s commonly recurring factual situations, in Part IX.

Keywords: Personal jurisdiction, Pennoyer v. Neff, International Shoe Co. v. Washington, nonconsenting nonresident, nonresident, minimum contacts, long arm jurisdiction

Suggested Citation

McFarland, Douglas D., Drop the Shoe: A Law of Personal Jurisdiction (January 1, 2003). Missouri Law Review, Vol. 68, No. 4, p. 753, Fall 2003. Available at SSRN:

Douglas D. McFarland (Contact Author)

Mitchell|Hamline School of Law ( email )

875 Summit Ave.
Saint Paul, MN 55105
United States

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