THE DAIMLER DECISION’S RESTRICTIONS ON GENERAL JURISDICTION PROVE SOLID PROTECTION FOR CORPORATE DEFENDANTS IN FORUMS OUTSIDE OF THEIR CORPORATE HOME – BUT NOT EVERYWHERE
The Supreme Court decision in Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S.Ct. 746 (2014) has been interpreted as limiting general personal jurisdiction over a corporate defendant to the state of incorporation or principal place of business of that corporate defendant. See, Smith v. Union Carbide Corp, et al, No. 1422-CCOO457, 2015 WL 191118 (Mo. Jan. 12, 2015); Long v. Patton Hospitality Management, LLC, 2016 WL 760780 (E.D. La. 2016); Namer v. Bank of America, N.A. (2016 WL 1089352 (E.D. La. 2016); Stanford v. DS Corp. of Indiana, 2015 WL 1623895 (W.D. La. 2015) (“[a] corporation is at home in a state when it is either incorporated there or has its principal place of business there”); Helene Cahen, et al v. Toyota Motor Corp., et al, — F. Supp. 3d —-, 2015 WL 7566806 (N.D. Cal. 2015) (Ford Motor Company is not subject to general in personam jurisdiction in California because it was not its home state, and the case was not “exceptional” enough to warrant the exercise of general in personam jurisdiction); Xilinx, Inc. v. Papst Licensing GMBH & Co. KG, 113 F. Supp. 3d 1027 (N.D. Cal. 2015).
Before Daimler, plaintiffs’ counsel forum-shopped mass actions in which hundreds, if not thousands, of plaintiffs would join in a single “destination” lawsuit in a plaintiff-friendly venue based on the loose concept of general jurisdiction. Oftentimes, out-of-state plaintiffs joined in these mass actions in which they were not even injured in the forum state (which would likely support the exercise of specific jurisdiction over an out-of-state corporate defendant). These “destination” mass actions for both out-of-state plaintiffs and out-of-state defendants were severely restricted by the Daimler decision that should be followed as the law of the land in every court considering general in personam jurisdiction as a matter of law under the U.S. Constitution, but is not. See Jeffs v. Anco Insulations, No. 15-L-533 (3rd Judicial Circuit Court, Madison County, IL 11/6/2015) (Ford Motor Corporation’s principal place of business is in Michigan and its state of incorporation is Delaware, but the court found that general jurisdiction existed over Ford in Illinois because it owned real property, had dealers and sold vehicles, and had an agent for service of process in Illinois for almost 100 years); State of West Virginia ex rel Ford Motor Company v. The Honorable Warren R. McGraw, et al, No. 15-1149 (Cir. Ct. Wyoming County, West Virginia, 10/21/2015) (Ford Motor Company found subject to general in personam jurisdiction in West Virginia state courts, despite the ruling in Daimler); Magill v. Ford Motor Company, No. 2015CV32019 (Dist. Ct. Co., December 1, 2015).