Ford Motor Company v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court
May a state court, consistent with the Due Process Clause, exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant when none of the defendant’s contacts with that state caused the plaintiff’s claims?Advocates
- Sean Marotta, for the petitioner
- Deepak Gupta, for the respondents
The Supreme Court consolidated two cases brought against Ford Motor Co. (“Ford”) involving different accidents—one in Montana, the other in Minnesota. Plaintiffs asserted claims sounding in tort against Ford. The issue was whether the “arise out of or relate to” requirement for specific personal jurisdiction “is met when none of the defendant’s forum contacts caused the plaintiff’s claims, such that the plaintiff’s claims would be the same even if the defendant had no forum contacts.”
We have focused on two exchanges. The first, between Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Mr. Marotta, counsel for Ford, touched on general as well as specific personal jurisdiction. We believe the Court needs to address the relationship between the two given the Court’s decisions since 2011 restricting the availability of general jurisdiction. See, e.g., Goodyear Dunlop Tire Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915 (2011).
Marotta gave a solid answer in response to the question. We have elaborated on his reply for two reasons: first, to make it clear that Ford was not asking the Court to change any aspect of the current law regarding general jurisdiction; and second, to reiterate, as Marotta did, that there were a number of states where courts would have specific jurisdiction over Ford.
The second exchange, between Justice Samuel Alito and Mr. Gupta, counsel for respondents, came in response to a question whether existing case law would be sufficient to permit the Court to decide the case. Gupta, reasonably, hedged a bit in his answer. We would have emphasized the fact-specific nature of personal jurisdiction cases. Our answer underscores the difficulty for the Court of providing more specific guidance for deciding future cases.Ford Motor Company v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court on Oyez: https://www.oyez.org/cases/2020/19-368