U.S. Supreme Court Reaffirms the Limits of Personal Jurisdiction

In Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown and J. McIntyre Machinery, Ltd. v. Nicastro, both handed down today, 27 June 2011, the Supreme Court addressed the standards for general and specific jurisdiction for the first time in several years and reaffirmed existing limits on when States can hear claims involving nonresident defendants. In Goodyear, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for a unanimous Supreme Court and held that a State cannot exercise general personal jurisdiction over a foreign company whose only contacts with the State stem from the company's products travelling through the stream of commerce and winding up in the forum State. In J. McIntyre, a four-justice plurality helmed by Justice Anthony Kennedy, and joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Samuel Alito in a narrow concurring opinion, held that a foreign company that markets a product only to the United States generally, but does not purposefully direct its product to an individual State, is not subject to specific jurisdiction in that State.

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