With one glance at the calendar, regular readers of this blog will have been able to predict the content of these prefatory paragraphs, later to be (tenuously) tied to today’s case. On Monday and Tuesday, as we have for nearly twenty years, we attended the annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, the second-oldest continuous sporting

We do a lot of grousing on this blog, but we acknowledge that there is much for which we should be thankful.  This legal business permits us to keep our minds lively and our fingernails clean.  Even the rotten decisions aren’t totally awful; they force us to stay busy, offer a fine target for snark, and it is beyond glorious when logic and justice eventually triumph and eradicate the offending ruling.  (We’re looking at you Conte.  Your days are numbered.)

The Supreme Court’s decision in Bauman is an example of the beneficent arc of history.  After decades of doctrinal incoherence on personal jurisdiction, under which a large corporation could pretty much be sued anywhere for anything, SCOTUS restored common sense by holding that a court could exercise general personal jurisdiction over a corporation only if that corporation was “at home” in that jurisdiction – which pretty much was limited to the place of incorporation or principal place of business.  We blogged about Bauman more than once, but you can start here.  Around the same time as Bauman, SCOTUS issued the Walden v. Fiore opinion, which limited specific jurisdiction over corporations to cases where the corporation’s conduct targeted the jurisdiction and gave rise to the action in that jurisdiction.  Simple, right?

Wrong, says the California Supreme Court.  Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court was a classic exercise in mass tort litigation tourism, as plaintiff lawyers cobbled together a group of plaintiffs who claimed that they had been injured by ingesting Plavix.  Out of 678 plaintiffs, only 86 lived in California.  The other 592 plaintiffs neither lived in California nor sustained any injury there.  It is not as if those plaintiffs knocked back Plavix after enduring the scary experience of Space Mountain at Disneyland or the Angels’ ineptitude at the Big A in Anaheim.  None of the Plavix was manufactured in California.  Clearly, the plaintiff lawyers had engaged in transparent forum-shopping, hoping that their non-California plaintiffs would benefit from pro-plaintiff California jurors and rulings.


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