Ford Motor Company v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court: Lots of Questions, Some Answers

29 Pages Posted: 24 Sep 2021

See all articles by Patrick Joseph Borchers

Patrick Joseph Borchers

Creighton University School of Law

Richard D. Freer

Emory University School of Law

Thomas C. Arthur

Emory University School of Law

Date Written: September 19, 2021

Abstract

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

Borchers, Patrick Joseph and Freer, Richard D. and Arthur, Thomas C., Ford Motor Company v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court: Lots of Questions, Some Answers (September 19, 2021). Emory Law Journal Online, Vol. 71, No. 1, 2021, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3926788

Patrick Joseph Borchers (Contact Author)

Creighton University School of Law ( email )

2500 California Plaza
Omaha, NE 68178
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HOME PAGE: http://culaw2.creighton.edu

Richard D. Freer

Emory University School of Law ( email )

1301 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States
(404) 727-6838 (Phone)
(404) 727-6820 (Fax)

Thomas C. Arthur

Emory University School of Law ( email )

1301 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States
404-727-5792 (Phone)
404-727-6820 (Fax)

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