Ford Motor Co. v. Mont. Eighth Dist. Court

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Procedure
  • Date Filed: January 17, 2020
  • Case #: 19-368
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: 443 P.3d 407 (Mont. 2019)
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether the “arise out of or related to” requirement is met when none of the defendant’s forum contacts caused the plaintiff’s claims, such that the plaintiff’s claims would be the same even if the defendant had no forum contacts.

The consolidated Respondents were injured in vehicle crashes allegedly caused by Petitioner’s vehicle defects and negligence. Respondents filed suits and Petitioner moved to dismiss because there was no link between the suits and any action taken by Petitioner within either state that could support specific personal jurisdiction. Neither vehicle had connections to either state until late in their ownership. The lower courts found Petitioner had connections to the forums and claims due to its marketing and selling activities and availing itself under a “stream of commerce plus” theory. Petitioner argues that the Due Process Clause requirement of “arise out of or relate to” found within Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of Cal., 137 S. Ct. 1773, 1785-86 (2017), is unmet and for that connection to exist, “the defendant’s suit-related conduct must create a substantial connection with the forum State.” Walden v. Fiore, 571 US 277, 284 (2014). Petitioner argues that the Respondents’ claims require some causal connection to some act the defendant took in or aimed at the forums. Petitioner argues that courts have adopted four approaches to this requirement and they lead to different outcomes in cases materially indistinguishable. Petitioner argues that the “no-causation approach” allows a party to be haled into court, not on the “activity g[iving] rise to the episode-in-suit” but based on “a defendant’s unconnected activates in the [forum],” and that the approach is wrong.

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