U.S. Supreme Court Brief of Professors of Civil Procedure and Federal Courts as Amici Curiae in Support of Respondents, Ford Motor Co. v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court, No. 19-368

33 Pages Posted: 25 Jul 2020

See all articles by Linda Sandstrom Simard

Linda Sandstrom Simard

Suffolk University Law School

Cassandra Burke Robertson

Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Charles W. (Rocky) Rhodes

South Texas College of Law

Bryan Camp

Texas Tech University School of Law

Paul R. Gugliuzza

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law

Jack Harrison

Northern Kentucky University - Salmon P. Chase College of Law

Benjamin V. Madison III

Regent University School of Law

John T. Parry

Lewis & Clark Law School

Joan M. Shaughnessy

Washington and Lee University - School of Law

Date Written: April 3, 2020

Abstract

This brief was filed on behalf of fifteen procedural and jurisdictional scholars desiring to promote an approach to personal jurisdiction that reflects fundamental principles of due process and respects precedent. Amici believe the car accidents prompting the underlying products-liability suits against Ford are so centered in Montana and Minnesota that requiring plaintiffs to litigate elsewhere would contradict traditional principles of state sovereignty and undermine the due-process interests at stake in the Fourteenth Amendment. Ford’s argument that specific personal jurisdiction requires a causal connection between its forum activities and the plaintiffs’ claim — such that it can only be sued where it designed, manufactured, or originally sold an allegedly defective vehicle — is not supported by any traditional due-process interest. Ford sought to induce Montana and Minnesota citizens to buy and trust Ford products, and the specific vehicles at issue were purchased second-hand in Montana and Minnesota before accidents on the States’ roadways involving State citizens. Ford’s conduct thus implicates the sovereign authority of Montana and Minnesota, as “every State owes protection to its own citizens,” Pennoyer v. Neff, and each State possesses a “significant interest in redressing injuries” within its borders to regulate and deter wrongful conduct. Keeton v. Hustler Magazine, Inc.

Ford suggests that exercising jurisdiction would violate its substantive due-process interest because it would be unable to predict or control its jurisdictional exposure. But the exercise of jurisdiction in these cases neither violates historical limits on the “contacts, ties, or relations” necessary to subject nonresident defendants to binding judgments, nor contravenes Ford’s expectations about amenability to suit. Courts, including the Supreme Court, have long acknowledged and upheld State sovereign judicial power to protect citizens from allegedly dangerous products by compelling product manufacturers conducting extensive in-state marketing and sales to answer claims for their products causing in-state injuries, irrespective of where the products were originally designed, manufactured, or sold. See Asahi Metal Industry Co. v. Superior Court; World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson.

Ford also argues that allowing Montana and Minnesota to exercise jurisdiction would violate horizontal-federalism interests. But a State’s sovereign power within its borders necessarily includes some ability to regulate conduct outside its borders. The question, then, is not whether the State’s regulatory authority reached out-of-state conduct, but whether regulating out-of-state conduct encroaches on the interest of a sister State more tightly connected to the conduct at issue. In these cases, the vehicles were purchased second-hand in the forum, registered in the forum, and the plaintiffs suffered injury in the forum. No other State has a greater interest in regulating these incidents. The plaintiffs thereby established the necessary “connection between the forum and the specific claims at issue” to satisfy the traditional demands of the Due Process Clause.

Keywords: Personal Jurisdiction, Specific Jurisdiction, Due Process Clause, State Sovereignty, Product Liability

JEL Classification: K00, K13, K41

Suggested Citation

Simard, Linda Sandstrom and Robertson, Cassandra Burke and Rhodes, Charles W. (Rocky) and Camp, Bryan T. and Gugliuzza, Paul R. and Harrison, Jack and Madison III, Benjamin V. and Parry, John T. and Shaughnessy, Joan M., U.S. Supreme Court Brief of Professors of Civil Procedure and Federal Courts as Amici Curiae in Support of Respondents, Ford Motor Co. v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court, No. 19-368 (April 3, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3639645 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3639645

Linda Sandstrom Simard

Suffolk University Law School ( email )

120 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02108-4977
United States

Cassandra Burke Robertson

Case Western Reserve University School of Law ( email )

11075 East Boulevard
Cleveland, OH 44106-7148
United States
216-368-3302 (Phone)

Charles W. (Rocky) Rhodes (Contact Author)

South Texas College of Law ( email )

1303 San Jacinto Street
Houston, TX 77002
United States
713-646-2918 (Phone)

Bryan T. Camp

Texas Tech University School of Law ( email )

1802 Hartford
Lubbock, TX 79409
United States

Paul R. Gugliuzza

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law ( email )

1719 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States

Jack Harrison

Northern Kentucky University - Salmon P. Chase College of Law ( email )

Nunn Hall
Highland Heights, KY 41099
United States

Benjamin V. Madison III

Regent University School of Law ( email )

1000 Regent University Drive
Virginia Beach, VA 23464
United States
757.226.4586 (Phone)
757.226.4329 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.regent.edu

John T. Parry

Lewis & Clark Law School ( email )

10015 S.W. Terwilliger Blvd.
Portland, OR 97219
United States
503-768-6888 (Phone)
503-768-6671 (Fax)

Joan M. Shaughnessy

Washington and Lee University - School of Law ( email )

488 Sydney Lewis Hall
Lexington, VA 24450
United States
540-458-8512 (Phone)
540-458-8488 (Fax)

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