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Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown

Supreme Court of the United States

January 11, 2011, Argued; June 27, 2011, Decided

No. 10-76

Opinion

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

This case concerns the jurisdiction of state courts over  [****7] corporations organized and operating abroad. We address, in particular, this question: Are foreign subsidiaries of a United States parent corporation amenable to suit in state court on claims unrelated to any activity of the subsidiaries in the forum State?

A bus accident outside Paris that took the lives of two 13-year-old boys from North Carolina gave rise to the litigation we here consider. Attributing the accident to a defective tire manufactured in Turkey at the plant of a foreign subsidiary of The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company (Goodyear USA), the boys' parents commenced an action for damages in a North Carolina state court; they named as defendants Goodyear USA, an Ohio corporation, and three of its subsidiaries, organized and operating, respectively, in Turkey, France, and Luxembourg. Goodyear USA, which had plants in North Carolina and regularly engaged in commercial activity there, did not contest the North Carolina court's jurisdiction over it; Goodyear USA's foreign subsidiaries, however, maintained that North Carolina lacked adjudicatory authority over them.

A state court's assertion of jurisdiction [***803]  exposes defendants to the State's coercive power, and is therefore subject  [****8] to review for compatibility with the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause. International Shoe Co. v. Washington,  [*919]  326 U.S. 310, 316, 66 S. Ct. 154, 90 L. Ed. 95 (1945) (assertion of jurisdiction over out-of-state corporation must comply with “ 'traditional [**2851]  notions of fair play and substantial justice' ” (quoting Milliken v. Meyer, 311 U.S. 457, 463, 61 S. Ct. 339, 85 L. Ed. 278 (1940))). Opinions in the wake of the pathmarking International Shoe decision have differentiated between general or all-purpose jurisdiction, and specific or case-linked jurisdiction. Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S. A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 414, 104 S. Ct. 1868, 80 L. Ed. 2d 404, nn. 8, 9 (1984).

A court may assert general jurisdiction over foreign (sister-state or foreign-country) corporations to hear any and all claims against them when their affiliations with the State are so “continuous and systematic” as to render them essentially at home in the forum State. See International Shoe, 326 U.S., at 317, 66 S. Ct. 154, 90 L. Ed. 95. Specific jurisdiction, on the other hand, depends on an “affiliatio[n] between the forum and the underlying controversy,” principally, activity or an occurrence that takes place in the forum State and is therefore subject to the State's regulation. von Mehren & Trautman, Jurisdiction To Adjudicate:  [****9] A Suggested Analysis, 79 Harv. L. Rev. 1121, 1136 (1966) (hereinafter von Mehren & Trautman); see Brilmayer et al., A General Look at General Jurisdiction, 66 Texas L. Rev. 723, 782 (1988) (hereinafter Brilmayer). In contrast to general, all-purpose jurisdiction, specific jurisdiction is confined to adjudication of “issues deriving from, or connected with, the very controversy that establishes jurisdiction.” von Mehren & Trautman 1136.

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564 U.S. 915 *; 131 S. Ct. 2846 **; 180 L. Ed. 2d 796 ***; 2011 U.S. LEXIS 4801 ****; 79 U.S.L.W. 4696; CCH Prod. Liab. Rep. P18,654; 22 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 1305

GOODYEAR DUNLOP TIRES OPERATIONS, S. A., et al., Petitioners v. EDGAR D. BROWN, et ux., co-administrators of the ESTATE OF JULIAN DAVID BROWN, et al.

Prior History:  [****1] ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS OF NORTH CAROLINA.

Brown v. Meter, 199 N.C. App. 50, 681 S.E.2d 382, 2009 N.C. App. LEXIS 1365 (2009)

Disposition: Reversed.

CORE TERMS

tires, general jurisdiction, manufactured, courts, contacts, forum state, petitioners', personal jurisdiction, subsidiaries, systematic, unrelated, stream of commerce, markings, cases, foreign subsidiary, out-of-state, helicopter, invoked

Civil Procedure, In Rem & Personal Jurisdiction, In Personam Actions, Due Process, Jurisdiction, Constitutional Limits, Minimum Contacts, Purposeful Availment, Long Arm Jurisdiction, General Overview