Ford Motor Company v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court: Lots of Questions, Some Answers
29 Pages Posted: 24 Sep 2021
Date Written: September 19, 2021
In Ford Motor Company v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court, the Supreme Court handed down its seventh personal jurisdiction decision in the last ten years. Ford—involving two consolidated state-court products liability suits alleging defects in the defendants’ cars that injured forum-state residents in their home states—is the only case in the Supreme Court’s decade-long spate of jurisdictional decisions to find the minimum contacts test satisfied. In this Article, we examine all three opinions of the case. Ford is a welcome return to serious consideration of the fairness of the assertion of jurisdiction. Unlike its six immediate predecessors, Ford considers not only the burden on the defendant in asserting jurisdiction, but also the unfairness to the plaintiff if the Court were to not allow jurisdiction. That said, Ford leaves open many important questions, which we explore. The consequences of the majority’s splitting the “arise out of or relate to” test for specific jurisdiction are not entirely clear. It remains an open question as to under what circumstances a non-causal relationship will suffice and when the presumably more demanding “arise out of” test must be met. We explore several hypothetical factual scenarios in which jurisdiction would depend on which formulation of relatedness is employed.
Keywords: personal jurisdiction, minimum contacts, related contacts, Ford, products liability
JEL Classification: K10,K13,K20,K30,K40,K41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation