Personal jurisdiction over foreign defendants in state courts is limited by state statutes and by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which the Supreme Court has interpreted to require that defendants have “minimum contacts” with the forum state. Personal jurisdiction in federal courts extends in most cases only as far as the jurisdiction of the state courts of the state in which they sit. However, in limited situations governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(k)(2) and some federal statutes, personal jurisdiction in federal courts may extend beyond the limits of state court jurisdiction. Personal jurisdiction in federal courts is limited by the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, the scope of which remains unclear. Whether customary international imposes general limits jurisdiction on jurisdiction to adjudicate is also unclear.
Personal Jurisdiction Gone Wrong: Barring U.S. Consumers from Suing Foreign Carmakers for Design Defects
The U.S. Supreme Court has twice emphasized (most recently in 2021) that the ability to sue a carmaker where the plaintiff lives and was injured is a quintessential exercise of personal jurisdiction. In Sellers v. Volkswagen AG, a Mississippi resident injured in Mississippi sued Volkswagen in Mississippi. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District…Continue Reading
In 1996, Congress passed the Helms-Burton Act to strengthen sanctions against Cuba and to deter foreign companies from investing there. To discourage foreign investment, Title III created a civil remedy allowing U.S. nationals to sue any person who “traffics” in property confiscated by the Cuban government for damages in an amount three times the value…Continue Reading
The Fifth Circuit has issued an important en banc opinion on foreign defendants, personal jurisdiction, and the Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause. The court held in Douglass v. Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha that the Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause mirrors the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause, except that the relevant sovereign is the United States…Continue Reading