Yesterday the Supreme Court granted plaintiff’s petition for a writ of certiorari in Mallory v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co. – a Pennsylvania Supreme Court case holding that registering to do business in a state does not by itself subject a corporation to general jurisdiction in that state. 266 A.3d 541 (Pa. 2021), discussed here.
As argued by the defendants in opposition to certiorari, and often by us on the DDL Blog, the issue of where a corporation is subject to general jurisdiction was decided in Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915 (2011), and Daimler AG v. Bauman, 571 U.S. 117 (2014). That’s at most two places, where its incorporated and where it has its principal place of business. And courts to have considered the obsolete concept of general jurisdiction by “registration” or by consent since Daimler have overwhelmingly rejected the argument. We detailed the state-by-state tally in our 50-state survey. Anything else would swallow the rule. Given that most nationally active corporations, including drug and device manufacturers, are registered to do business in every state, they would be subject to general jurisdiction in every state if jurisdiction by consent were allowed. You can find more on jurisdiction by consent in our cheat sheet too.
The only notable outlier post-Daimler is Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. v. McCall, which upheld Georgia’s consent-by-registration scheme against a due process challenge. 863 S.E.2d 81 (Ga. 2021). A petition for certiorari is also pending in that case which turns on a quirk in Georgia law that even the Georgia court recognized was inconsistent with Supreme Court precedent. It’s quite possible that Cooper Tire will now be held in limbo pending the Court’s Mallory decision.
So, with all of that we will watch for this decision to hopefully put to rest this issue once and for all.