By: Russell S. Ponessa
For more than thirty years, the courts have issued widely divergent and often result-oriented decisions regarding the exercise of personal jurisdiction over product liability defendants. The "stream of commerce" metaphor first announced in the 1980 United States Supreme Court decision in World-Wide Volkswagen took hold and largely carried the day. Dicta became precedent, and in the view of many courts a company's product became its registered agent for service of process - regardless of where the product ended up, or how it got there. A new Supreme Court decision has signaled a shift in the other direction making personal jurisdiction an important tool, defensively and offensively, in the handling of product liability cases.
The June 27, 2011, United States Supreme Court decision in J. McIntyre Machinery, Ltd. v. Nicastro, 131 S. Ct. 2780 (2011) should cause domestic and foreign product manufacturers, distributors, and sellers to take a close look at where they can be sued. In McIntyre, a four-justice plurality and a two-justice concurrence held that J. McIntyre Machinery, Ltd., a Great Britain machinery manufacturer, was not subject to personal jurisdiction in the state court of New Jersey - even though Robert Nicastro was injured in New Jersey while using a metal shearing machine made by J. McIntyre.
Download or read the complete article here: Personal Jurisdiction in the Wake of J. McIntyre Machinery, Ltd. v. Nicastro: Your Product Ending Up There Is Not Enough