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Daimler AG v. Bauman

Supreme Court of the United States

October 15, 2013, Argued; January 14, 2014, Decided

No. 11-965

Opinion

 [*120]  Justice Ginsburg delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case concerns the authority of a court in the United States to entertain a claim brought by foreign plaintiffs against a foreign defendant based on events occurring entirely outside the United States. The litigation commenced in  [****8] 2004, when 22 Argentinian residents 1 filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Northern District  [*121]  of California against DaimlerChrysler Aktiengesellschaft  [**751]  (Daimler), 2 a German public stock company, headquartered in Stuttgart, that manufactures Mercedes-Benz vehicles in Germany. The complaint alleged  [***630]  that during Argentina’s 1976-1983 “Dirty War,” Daimler’s Argentinian subsidiary, Mercedes-Benz Argentina (MB Argentina) collaborated with state security forces to kidnap, detain, torture, and kill certain MB Argentina workers, among them, plaintiffs or persons closely related to plaintiffs. Damages for the alleged human-rights violations were sought from Daimler under the laws of the United States, California, and Argentina. Jurisdiction over the lawsuit was predicated on the California contacts of Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC (MBUSA), a subsidiary of Daimler incorporated in Delaware with its principal place of business in New Jersey. MBUSA distributes Daimler-manufactured vehicles to independent dealerships throughout the United States, including California.

The question presented is whether the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment precludes the District Court from exercising jurisdiction over Daimler in this case, given the absence of any California connection to the atrocities, perpetrators, or victims described in the complaint. Plaintiffs invoked the court’s general or all-purpose jurisdiction. California, they urge, is a place where Daimler may be sued on any and all claims against it, wherever in the world the claims may arise. For example, as plaintiffs’ counsel affirmed, under the proffered jurisdictional theory, if a Daimler-manufactured vehicle overturned in Poland, injuring a Polish driver and passenger, the injured parties could maintain a design defect suit in California. See Tr. of Oral Arg. 28-29. Exercises of personal jurisdiction so exorbitant,  [*122]  we hold, are barred by due process constraints on the assertion of adjudicatory  [****10] authority.

In Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S. A. v. Brown, 564 U. S. 915, 131 S. Ct. 2846, 180 L. Ed. 2d 796 (2011), we addressed the distinction between general or all-purpose jurisdiction, and specific or conduct-linked jurisdiction. As to the former, we held that a court may assert jurisdiction over a foreign corporation “to hear any and all claims against [it]” only when the corporation’s affiliations with the State in which suit is brought are so constant and pervasive “as to render [it] essentially at home in the forum State.” Id., at 919, 131 S. Ct. 2846, 2851, 180 L. Ed. 2d 796, 803. Instructed by Goodyear, we conclude Daimler is not “at home” in California, and cannot be sued there for injuries plaintiffs attribute to MB Argentina’s conduct in Argentina.

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571 U.S. 117 *; 134 S. Ct. 746 **; 187 L. Ed. 2d 624 ***; 2014 U.S. LEXIS 644 ****; 82 U.S.L.W. 4043; 24 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 503; 2014 WL 113486

DAIMLER AG, Petitioner v. BARBARA BAUMAN et al.

Notice: The LEXIS pagination of this document is subject to change pending release of the final published version.

Subsequent History: On remand at Bauman v. Daimlerchrysler Corp., 743 F.3d 1295, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 3867 (9th Cir., Feb. 28, 2014)

Prior History:  [****1] ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT

Bauman v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., 644 F.3d 909, 2011 U.S. App. LEXIS 10010 (9th Cir. Cal., 2011)

Disposition: Reversed.

CORE TERMS

general jurisdiction, contacts, forum state, subsidiary, systematic, courts, personal jurisdiction, in-state, sales, Ohio Law, all-purpose, prong, principal place of business, affiliations, distributor, Appeals, manufactured, Tires, cases, foreign corporation, due process, multinational, out-of-state, general business, do business, incorporation, headquarters, attributed, decisions, amenable

Civil Procedure, In Rem & Personal Jurisdiction, In Personam Actions, Substantial Contacts, Preliminary Considerations, Federal & State Interrelationships, Erie Doctrine, General Overview, Jurisdiction, Constitutional Limits, Long Arm Jurisdiction, Business & Corporate Law, Agency Relationships, Authority to Act