Class-Action Lawyers Invoke Novel Doctrine to Avoid SCOTUS Jurisdiction Rulings

supreme courtCivil litigation is waged through a series of small battles between plaintiff’s and defendant’s counsel. One initial battle, which can be outcome-determinative, involves where suit can be filed. Plaintiffs’ lawyers want to be in courts in which “friendly” judges preside, while defense counsel want no part of such jurisdictions. U.S. Supreme Court decisions from the past five years, such as Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Court (BMS), have thrown a monkey wrench into plaintiffs’ lawyers’ jurisdiction battle plans. But without fail, plaintiffs’ lawyers, and particularly those who specialize in class actions, devise new arguments. They have argued, with mixed results in the lower courts, that precedents such as BMS don’t dictate jurisdiction for nationwide class actions. Some class-action lawyers are also relying on a rarely used federal common law doctrine—“pendent personal jurisdiction.” Continue reading “Class-Action Lawyers Invoke Novel Doctrine to Avoid SCOTUS Jurisdiction Rulings”

In 2019, Federal Appellate Courts Will Address Impact of SCOTUS Jurisdiction Ruling on Class Actions

DC CircuitSince the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Court (BMS), litigants and courts have struggled to determine its impact on future cases.  The Court held in BMS that courts may not exercise jurisdiction over nonresident defendants with respect to nonresident plaintiffs’ claims arising from conduct that occurred outside the State. This limits defendants’ exposure to nationwide mass-tort actions to States where they are “at home” and subject to that forum’s general personal jurisdiction.

Class actions are now at the forefront of the fight to define BMS. To date, no federal circuit court has considered whether BMS applies equally to class actions as it does to mass-tort actions. But several circuit courts will have the opportunity to resolve this question in 2019, quite possibly with differing results. A WLF Working Paper published in March 2018 framed the question these courts will have to answer as follows: If joinder of plaintiffs does not establish specific jurisdiction over the defendant for nonresident plaintiffs’ claims (as in BMS), can the result be any different when the nonresident plaintiffs are instead absent members of a class? Continue reading “In 2019, Federal Appellate Courts Will Address Impact of SCOTUS Jurisdiction Ruling on Class Actions”

Oklahoma High Court Rejects “Stream of Commerce” Doctrine as Basis for Specific Jurisdiction

Isaac-05115Guest Commentary

By Gary Isaac, Counsel in Mayer Brown LLP’s Litigation department. He has extensive experience litigating personal jurisdiction issues.

In the past several years, the U.S. Supreme Court has issued several decisions significantly limiting the assertion of personal jurisdiction over nonresident defendants.1 However, it has been left to the lower state and federal courts to apply the principles delineated by the Supreme Court. One recent personal jurisdiction decision of note is Montgomery v. Airbus Helicopters, Inc., 414 P.3d 824 (Okl. 2018), which concluded that in the wake of Walden and Bristol-Myers Squibb (“BMS”), the “stream of commerce” doctrine is no longer a viable basis for specific jurisdiction. Continue reading “Oklahoma High Court Rejects “Stream of Commerce” Doctrine as Basis for Specific Jurisdiction”

District Courts Divide over Application of “Bristol-Myers Squibb” Decision to Class Actions

troyer_brian_240x470Guest Commentary

By Brian A. Troyer, a Partner with Thompson Hine LLP in its Cleveland, OH office.

In a September 8, 2017 Washington Legal Foundation Legal Backgrounder on Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California, 137 S. Ct. 1773 (2017), I noted that it would remain to be determined how courts would apply it to nationwide and multistate class actions. An Illinois federal court recently became the latest to confront this issue, holding that it lacked jurisdiction over the defendant with respect to claims of nonresident class members, disagreeing with courts in California and Louisiana. The result is a clear split among district courts on the question, and the issue is likely to be brought to the U.S. Supreme Court if courts of appeal also reach opposite conclusions on such a fundamental question. Continue reading “District Courts Divide over Application of “Bristol-Myers Squibb” Decision to Class Actions”

Change in Law of Patent Venue May Not Be Get Out of Texas Card

Kaminski_Jeffri_LRFeatured Expert Contributor, Intellectual Property—Patents

Jeffri A. Kaminski, Venable LLP

In In re: Micron Technology, Inc., the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit resolved a disagreement among various district courts as to when the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Food Group Brands LLC has changed patent venue law.  The Federal Circuit ruled the law had changed, but each federal district court maintains discretion to apply the new rule in accordance with each court’s respective procedures. Continue reading “Change in Law of Patent Venue May Not Be Get Out of Texas Card”

Eastern District of Texas Refuses to Accept Supreme Court’s Patent-Venue Ruling

hydraBy Ryley Bennett, a 2017 Judge K.K. Legett Fellow at Washington Legal Foundation who will be entering her third year at Texas Tech University School of Law in the fall.

The US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas (EDTX) is known as one of the federal judiciary’s most patent-plaintiff-friendly districts. With TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Food Groups Brand LLC, 137 S. Ct. 1514 (2017), the US Supreme Court recently cut off one avenue for filing patent-infringement claims there. It ruled in that patent-infringement lawsuits may be brought only in the infringer’s home state or else in a federal district where it maintains a regular place of business. But like the resilient, mythical Hydra, when one head is cut off, more grow back. In a recent decision, Eastern District of Texas Judge Rodney Gilstrap developed a broadly-sweeping four-factor “totality” test seemingly aimed at keeping patent-infringement suits in his jurisdiction. Continue reading “Eastern District of Texas Refuses to Accept Supreme Court’s Patent-Venue Ruling”

US-Based Tech Companies Subject to Worldwide Jurisdiction as Judicial Comity Takes a Back Seat

Guest Commentary

moinBy Moin A. Yahya, Vice Dean and Professor of Law at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Law.

The Supreme Court of Canada’s (SCC) recent decision in Google Inc. v. Equustek Solutions Inc. is the latest in non-American courts asserting their jurisdiction over American companies’ global operations using the pretext of the Internet.  The case arose as a dispute between two companies—one a manufacturer of networking devices and the other its distributor.  The distributor was accused of passing off its own competing products as the manufacturer’s, which led the manufacturer to sue the distributor.  It obtained an order requiring the distributor to cease distributing the manufacturer’s products.  The distributor did not comply, left Canada, and did not appear in subsequent proceedings.  The distributor, however, continued to advertise itself as a seller of the manufacturer’s products on several non-Canadian websites.  Continue reading “US-Based Tech Companies Subject to Worldwide Jurisdiction as Judicial Comity Takes a Back Seat”