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Helicopteros Nacionales De Colombia v. Hall

Supreme Court of the United States

November 8, 1983, Argued ; April 24, 1984, Decided

No. 82-1127

Opinion

 [*409]  [***408]  [**1869]     JUSTICE BLACKMUN delivered the opinion of the Court.

 We granted certiorari in this case, 460 U.S. 1021 (1983), to decide whether the Supreme Court of Texas correctly ruled that the contacts of a foreign corporation with the State of Texas were sufficient to allow a Texas state court to assert jurisdiction over the corporation in a cause of action not  [**1870]  arising out of or related to the corporation's activities within the State.

Petitioner Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S. A. (Helicol), is a Colombian corporation with its principal place of business in the city of Bogota in that country. It is engaged in the business of providing helicopter transportation for oil and construction companies in South America. On  [*410]  January 26, 1976, a helicopter owned by Helicol crashed in Peru. Four United [****5]  States citizens were among those who lost their lives in the accident. Respondents are the survivors and representatives of the four decedents.

At the time of the crash, respondents' decedents were employed by Consorcio, a Peruvian consortium, and were working on a pipeline in Peru. Consorcio is the alter ego of a joint venture named Williams-Sedco-Horn (WSH). 2 The venture had its headquarters in Houston, Tex. Consorcio had been formed to enable the venturers to enter into a contract with Petro Peru, the Peruvian state-owned oil company. Consorcio was to construct a pipeline for Petro Peru running from the interior of Peru westward to the Pacific Ocean. Peruvian law forbade construction of the pipeline by any non-Peruvian entity.

Consorcio/WSH 3 [****7]  needed helicopters to move personnel, materials,  [****6]  and equipment into and out of the construction area. In 1974, upon request of Consorcio/WSH, the chief executive officer of Helicol, Francisco Restrepo, flew to the United States and conferred in Houston with representatives of the three joint venturers. At that meeting, there was a discussion of prices, availability, working conditions, fuel, supplies, and housing. Restrepo represented that Helicol could have the first helicopter on the job in 15 days. The  [***409]  Consorcio/WSH representatives decided to accept the contract proposed by Restrepo. Helicol began performing before the agreement was formally signed in Peru on November 11, 1974. 4 The contract was written in Spanish on  [*411]  official government stationery and provided that the residence of all the parties would be Lima, Peru. It further stated that controversies arising out of the contract would be submitted to the jurisdiction of Peruvian courts. In addition, it provided that Consorcio/WSH would make payments to Helicol's account with the Bank of America in New York City. App. 12a.

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466 U.S. 408 *; 104 S. Ct. 1868 **; 80 L. Ed. 2d 404 ***; 1984 U.S. LEXIS 68 ****; 52 U.S.L.W. 4491

HELICOPTEROS NACIONALES DE COLOMBIA, S. A. v. HALL ET AL.

Prior History:  [****1]  CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF TEXAS.

Disposition:  638 S. W. 2d 870, reversed.

CORE TERMS

contacts, helicopter, cause of action, training, courts, general jurisdiction, personam jurisdiction, foreign corporation, purchases, nonresident, pilot, limits, respondents', crash, underlying cause of action, personal jurisdiction, fair and reasonable, do business, venture, assertion of jurisdiction, state court, obligations, personnel, transportation, transactions, negotiation, systematic, relates, trips

Civil Procedure, In Rem & Personal Jurisdiction, In Personam Actions, General Overview, Jurisdiction, Constitutional Limits, Constitutional Law, Fundamental Rights, Procedural Due Process, Minimum Contacts, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Contracts Law, Discharge & Payment, Defenses, Failure of Consideration, Family Law, Marital Agreements, Postnuptial & Separation Agreements