Corporate Counsel

Authors: Ian M. Turetsky Jennifer L. Achilles

For many lawyers, the words "personal jurisdiction" do little more than invoke distant memories of a civil procedure course in law school, or perhaps a tortured essay question on the bar exam. But for global companies with a U.S. presence, those words have often invoked shock and bewilderment at the apparent ability of state and federal courts to issue orders over and render judgments against companies outside of the United States based solely on the presence of an in-state affiliate.

Not so anymore. In Daimler AG v. Bauman [PDF], the U.S. Supreme Court held that a foreign corporation is not amenable to general jurisdiction merely because its affiliate, parent or subsidiary is subject to general jurisdiction in the forum state. Rather, courts may only assert general jurisdiction over a company if that company itself is "at home" there. In so holding, the Supreme Court erased decades of case law from lower federal and state courts, and aligned the United States with its international peers on the limits of jurisdictional power.

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