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Belmont Law Review

Authors

B. Travis Brown

Abstract

General jurisdiction is slowly being eroded. What was once a well-trodden path used to hale corporate defendants into the courthouse is now increasingly barred or shut. In its most recent general jurisdiction opinion, Daimler AG v. Bauman, the U.S. Supreme Court continued its trend towards divesting general jurisdiction of its utility. This is a mistake. The 21st century’s economy is increasingly complex, and general jurisdiction must evolve with this complexity. Failing to do so allows intricate corporate structures to insulate corporate defendants from the jurisdiction of U.S courts. Although the theory of personal jurisdiction has come a long way since the landmark decisions in Pennoyer v. Neff and International Shoe v. Washington, it must continue to evolve. Arguably, another catalytic opinion is needed to belatedly nudge general jurisdiction into modernity. This note explores the history of general jurisdiction, provides a means to satisfy the currently rigorous general jurisdiction standard, and proposes a new standard that is more cogent in the modern age. In doing so, Part I of this note explains the theory behind general jurisdiction and how it differs from specific jurisdiction, and Part II describes the history of the Supreme Court’s general jurisdiction jurisprudence since Pennoyer. After examining the theory of general jurisdiction and Supreme Court precedent on the issue, Part III traces the steps of the Daimler case, from the Northern District of California to the Supreme Court, with each courts’ nuances highlighted. Part IV then explains the necessary steps plaintiffs must take to satisfy the new rigors of general jurisdiction. Finally, Part V provides a new definition and standard of general jurisdiction, one that will hopefully be more consistent with the original theory of general jurisdiction that was first outlined in Pennoyer and International Shoe.

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