Law School Case Brief
Aybar v. Aybar - 2019 NY Slip Op 00412, 169 A.D.3d 137, 93 N.Y.S.3d 159 (App. Div.)
The U.S. Supreme Court has addressed the distinction between general and specific jurisdiction and stated that a court is authorized to exercise general jurisdiction over a foreign corporation when the corporation's affiliations with a state are so continuous and systematic as to render them essentially at home in the forum state. The Court has limited the scope of general jurisdiction to that definition, and has rejected a standard that would allow the exercise of general jurisdiction in every state in which a corporation is engaged in a substantial, continuous, and systematic course of business. The Court has instructed that, with respect to corporations, the paradigm bases for general jurisdiction are the place of incorporation and principal place of business. Although the Court has not limited the exercise of general jurisdiction to those two forums, it has left open only the possibility of an "exceptional case" where a corporate defendant's operations in another state are so substantial and of such a nature as to render the corporation at home in that state.
Defendant Jose A. Aybar, Jr., a New York resident, was operating a 2002 Ford Explorer that was registered in New York when one of its tires allegedly failed, causing the vehicle to become unstable and overturn and roll multiple times. Three of the six passengers died as a result of the accident and the other three were injured. The plaintiffs were the surviving passengers and the representatives of the deceased passengers' estates. They alleged, among other things, that the defendant Ford Motor Company (Ford) negligently manufactured and designed the Ford Explorer, and that the defendant Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (hereinafter Goodyear) negligently manufactured and designed the faulty tire. Ford was incorporated in Delaware, with its principal place of business in Michigan; and Goodyear was incorporated in, and has its principal place of business in, Ohio. The complaint alleged that at all relevant times both corporations were registered to do business in New York, and that each, in fact, conducted business in New York and derived substantial revenue from such business. Ford moved pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(8) to dismiss the complaint on the ground that the Supreme Court lacked personal jurisdiction over it. In opposition to the motion, the plaintiffs argued that Ford was subject to general jurisdiction in New York because Ford maintained a substantial and continuous presence in New York. Goodyear also moved pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(8) to dismiss the complaint on the ground of lack of personal jurisdiction. In opposition to Goodyear's motion, the plaintiffs argued that Goodyear was subject to general jurisdiction in New York because its business affiliations within New York were so pervasive or continuous and systematic as to render it essentially "at home" in New York State. In separate orders, the Supreme Court, Queens County, denied the motions, concluding that Ford and Goodyear were each subject to general jurisdiction in New York. The motion court found that the activities of both Ford and Goodyear in New York were so continuous and systematic that both Ford and Goodyear were essentially at home in New York. The motion court also found that both Ford and Goodyear had otherwise consented to general jurisdiction in New York by each registering to do business in New York as a foreign corporation and designating a local agent for service of process. Ford and Goodyear appealed.
Due to their continuous and systematic activities in New York, were Ford and Goodyear subject to the general jurisdiction of the New York courts?
The Court held that New York could not exercise personal general jurisdiction over defendants as to a Virginia injury because their New York contacts, given their global activities, did not permit asserting general jurisdiction over claims unrelated to New York activity. The Court further held that Ford did not consent to personal jurisdiction by registering to do business under Business Corporation Law §§ 1301(a) and 1304(a)(6) or appointing the Secretary of State as their agent, under Business Corporation Law § 304(b), because, under evolving in personam jurisdiction law, this did not consent to New York courts' general jurisdiction on claims unrelated to New York.
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