Seyfarth Synopsis: Recent activity within the federal Courts of Appeals this spring may prompt Supreme Court resolution of a central and unsettled issue concerning personal jurisdiction in the class-action context causing defendants to re-think pleading stage strategies when forced to litigate in forums where they have minimal contacts.

Generally, out-of-state defendants (not subject to general jurisdiction) may only be sued in a forum within that state when the suit arises out of or relates to the defendant’s in-state conduct—that is, where the defendant’s minimum contacts with the forum state are sufficient to exercise specific jurisdiction. Assessments of whether specific jurisdiction exists become problematic in mass-tort or class-action litigation involving both resident and nonresident plaintiffs. In such cases, is it sufficient that one or some of the plaintiffs reside or were injured in the forum state, so as to allow out-of-state plaintiffs to aggregate or “bootstrap” their claims?

In 2017, the Supreme Court answered in the negative, at least in the mass-tort context. 137 S. Ct. 1773 (2017). There, more than six hundred plaintiffs brought suit in California state court against a drug manufacturer. Only eighty-six of the plaintiffs were California residents, and the remaining plaintiffs were residents of over thirty other states. Id. at 1778. The nonresident plaintiffs did not argue that they obtained the allegedly defective drug in California or that they sustained injuries or received treatment in California. Id. The Supreme Court held that the California court lacked specific jurisdiction over the nonresident plaintiffs’ claims, reasoning that “[t]he mere fact that other plaintiffs . . . sustained the same injuries as did the nonresidents . . . does not allow the State to assert specific jurisdiction over the nonresidents’ claims.” Id. at 1781 (emphasis in original). The Supreme Court confirmed that a defendant’s relationship with a resident plaintiff “standing alone” is insufficient to confer personal jurisdiction over nonresidents’ claims, even where the claims are similar to those brought by the resident plaintiff. Id. at 1783.
Continue Reading Update on Personal Jurisdiction Law in the Class Action Context

On January 10, 2018, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia denied Plaintiff Tiffanie Branch’s renewed motion for class certification in Branch v. Government Employees Insurance Company, No. 3:16-cv-1010, 2018 WL 358504 (E.D. Va. Jan. 10, 2018). In particular, the Court found that the facts underlying her allegations were too individualized

Seyfarth Synopsis: In Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, the U.S. Supreme Court held that a plaintiff must have a concrete injury to sue for FCRA violations. Following Spokeo’s remand, courts have held that consumers have standing to sue if their reports are inaccurate even if an inaccuracy did not adversely affect them.

In Spokeo,

Also By Robert T. Szyba, and Ephraim J. Pierre

Seyfarth Synopsis: In deciding Spokeo v. Robins, the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed that plaintiffs seeking to establish that they have standing to sue must show “an invasion of a legally protected interest” that is particularized and concrete — that is, the injury “must actually

Recently, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that a plaintiff seeking to remand a putative class action under the Class Action Fairness Act’s (“CAFA”) home-state exception must produce evidence allowing the court to determine the putative class members’ citizenship as of the date the case was removed to federal court. 

Background

In March, the Supreme Court granted certiorari to determine whether the filing of a putative class action serves, under the American Pipe rule, to satisfy the three-year time limitation in § 13 of the Securities Act with respect to the claims of putative class members.  Now, the Court is beginning to consider the merits. 

On January 14, 2014, the United States Supreme Court rewrote the test for general personal jurisdiction, holding that a defendant is subject to such jurisdiction only in the states where it is incorporated or has its principal place of business.  Daimler AG v. Bauman, No. 11-965, 2014 WL 113486 (U.S. Jan. 14, 2014),