U.S. Supreme Court Amicus Brief of Jonathan R. Nash in Support of Respondents, Ford Motor Co. v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court, Nos. 19-368 & 19-369
13 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2020
Date Written: April 2, 2020
The Supreme Court in Daimler AG v. Bauman, 571 U.S. 117 (2014), justified its decision to constrict general personal jurisdiction by reciting the desire to make the law surrounding constitutional personal jurisdiction governed more by “[s]imple jurisdictional rules.” Id. at 137 (quoting Hertz Corp. v. Friend, 559 U.S. 77, 94 (2010)). Yet the law governing general jurisdiction prior to Goodyear Dunlop Tire Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915 (2011), and Daimler was substantially rule-like. Further, by shrinking the scope of general jurisdiction, the Court’s holdings will have the effect of forcing more plaintiffs into the realm of specific jurisdiction, where standards generally dominate. Whatever benefit was gained by making general jurisdiction marginally more rule-like is lost to the reality that more plaintiffs will now have to navigate the standard-like dominion of specific jurisdiction.
The cases at bar provide one such example. Prior to Goodyear and Daimler, it would have been largely undisputed—with rule-like precision—that the Montana and Minnesota state courts had general jurisdiction over Ford Motor Co. After Goodyear and Daimler, it is clear that these courts lacked general jurisdiction. This has left the plaintiffs to claim specific jurisdiction over Ford. The Court should embrace a more predictable approach to specific jurisdiction under which, if the defendant continuously sells the injury-causing product in the forum state (even if the particular item or widget at issue was not originally sold in the forum state) and the injury occurs in the forum state, then the defendant’s contacts with the forum state relate to the claim.. Such an approach offsets the existing pressure toward jurisdictional standards and is consistent with the Court’s goal of ensconcing rules along personal jurisdictional boundaries. The Court should accordingly affirm the judgments below on that basis.
Keywords: Civil Procedure; Rules And Standards; Personal Jurisdiction; Due Process Clause; Fourteenth Amendment
JEL Classification: K40, K41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation