Until recently, many large companies have resigned themselves to the assertion of personal jurisdiction by courts in any state in which they do business—so long as the plaintiff has named the right corporate entity as defendant. That’s because the conventional wisdom has been that large companies are subject to personal jurisdiction nationwide because they do a lot of business in every state.

The Supreme Court recently has provided reason to revisit that assumption, however. Two recent decisions by the Court place significantly tighter limitations on the assertion of personal jurisdiction, equipping businesses with new defenses against forum-shopping by plaintiffs’ class-action lawyers.Continue Reading Are You Objecting to Personal Jurisdiction In Magnet Jurisdictions Yet?

We’ve previously discussed the Supreme Court’s decision in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum. The American Lawyer Litigation Daily has just published a column by my colleague, Andy Pincus, responding to another columnist’s lament that Kiobel has rendered claims under the Alien Tort Statute “a zombie doctrine—not quite alive and not quite dead.”  Andy provides a dose of reality about the history of ATS litigation in the United States, and explains why private litigation is not the most productive way to respond to human rights concerns.  Both columns are well worth reading to get a sense of the debate
Continue Reading Article on Alien Tort Statute after Kiobel

Today, the Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum (pdf) on the scope of the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”), 28 U.S.C. § 1350, a law that creates federal jurisdiction for civil actions brought by aliens for torts committed in violation of the law of nations or a U.S. treaty. In Kiobel, the Court held that presumption against applying federal statutes extraterritorially applies to the ATS, and affirmed the dismissal of an ATS complaint alleging violations of international law in Nigeria. Kiobel thus is a very welcome development for businesses that have been targeted by lawsuits under the ATS, an increasingly common vehicle for unjustified class actions in recent years.

See additional discussion below the fold.
Continue Reading Supreme Court Holds That Alien Tort Statute Doesn’t Apply Extraterritorially