On December 22, 2021, a unanimous Pennsylvania Supreme Court held in Robert Mallory v. Norfolk Southern Railway Company that a foreign corporation is not subject to personal jurisdiction in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania solely because of its registration to do business there. The Mallory decision is an affirmation of the due process rights of non-Pennsylvania corporate defendants and significantly impacts who can permissibly be sued in the Commonwealth. Mallory, a resident of the Commonwealth of Virginia, filed suit in Pennsylvania seeking damages under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act against his former employer, Norfolk Southern, a Virginia corporation, for injuries allegedly sustained in the course of the plaintiff’s work in Virginia and Ohio. The sole basis for the exercise of personal jurisdiction was Norfolk Southern’s registration to do business in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania’s business registration statute is unique in that the statute conditions registration upon a corporation’s “consent” to personal jurisdiction in Pennsylvania courts. Before Mallory, Pennsylvania state courts and many of Pennsylvania’s federal courts generally permitted the exercise of personal jurisdiction over foreign corporations based solely on their registering to do business in Pennsylvania. The appeal in Mallory required the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to consider whether Pennsylvania’s broad exercise of personal jurisdiction through its corporate registration statute comports with the demands of due...
Don’t Sleep on Service of Process: The Middle District of Pennsylvania Denies Motion to Remand Because Plaintiffs Could Not Justify Out-of-State Service via Certified Mail
A recent decision from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania emphasizes the importance of meticulous adherence to the rules governing service of process. In Fox v. Chipotle, the plaintiffs’ failure to properly serve an out-of-state corporation via certified mail – where the plaintiffs’ service of process did not utilize the restricted delivery option offered by the United States Postal Service – resulted in the denial of the plaintiffs’ motion to remand and the associated loss of any tactical advantage the plaintiffs may have believed to exist in litigating their class action in state court instead of federal court. The plaintiff filed a class action complaint against Chipotle in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County of Pennsylvania asserting violations of the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, 73 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 201-1, based on claims that Chipotle was “shortchanging” customers who made cash payments. Chipotle is a Delaware corporation with a principal place of business in California, and the plaintiffs’ motion to remand focused on the sufficiency of the plaintiffs’ attempts to serve Chipotle as an out-of-state defendant via certified mail, pursuant to Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 403. In particular, the plaintiffs claimed to have served Chipotle by certified mail at its corporate headquarters in...
We recently reported on the Federal Circuit’s holdings in Acorda Therapeutics, Inc. v. Mylan Pharm. Inc. and AstraZeneca AB v. Mylan Pharm., Inc., where it held that Mylan was subject to jurisdiction in Delaware because “Mylan’s ANDA filings constitute formal acts that reliably indicate plans to engage in marketing of the proposed generic drugs.” Earlier this month, the first decision from the District of New Jersey District applying the Federal Circuits ruling was rendered. In Helsinn Healthcare S.A., et al. v. Hospira, Inc., No. 15-2077 (MLC), 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45826 (D.N.J. April 5, 2016), Judge Mary L. Cooper held that sufficient minimum contacts is to find specific jurisdiction is established by the fact that Hospira filed an ANDA seeking to market a generic version of Helsinn’s Aloxi® product that if approved, the marketing of will take place in New Jersey.
Last week the Federal Circuit handed down one of its more anticipated decisions regarding jurisdiction in cases brought under 35 U.S.C. § 271(e)(2) (aka Hatch-Waxman or ANDA litigation). In its holding, the Federal Circuit stated that a “[defendant’s] ANDA filings and its distribution channels” are enough to “establish that [the defendant’s] plans to market its proposed [ANDA product in the forum state]” are enough to meet the minimum-contacts requirement to establish jurisdiction. It further held “there is no substantial argument that considerations of unfairness override the minimum-contacts basis for [the forum state’s] exercise of specific personal jurisdiction over” the defendants. This holding is much broader than the underlying district court rulings and limited the analysis to specific jurisdiction without addressing the underlying general jurisdictional questions.
Delaware Supreme Court Clarifies Reach of Personal Jurisdiction Over Nonresident Directors and Officers of Delaware Corporations Under 10 Del. C. § 3114
The Delaware Supreme Court, in Marc Hazout v. Tsang Mun Ting, No. 353, 2015 (Feb. 26, 2016) (Strine, C.J.), held that the reach of personal jurisdiction under 10 Del. C. § 3114 over nonresident officers and directors of Delaware corporations, contrary to Court of Chancery precedent, is not limited to claims by stockholders against such officers and directors for breach of fiduciary duty. Rather, under the plain language of the statute, a nonresident officer or director of a Delaware corporation, by virtue of accepting and holding office, has consented to personal jurisdiction in Delaware, subject to the requirements of due process, in two classes of cases: (i) “all civil actions or proceedings brought in this State, by or on behalf of, or against such corporation, in which such officer [or director] is a necessary or proper party”; or (ii) “any action or proceeding against such officer [or director] in violation of a duty in such capacity.”
Third Circuit Relaxes Pleading Requirements for Limited Liability Company Defendants and Urges Supreme Court to Redefine Citizenship Rule
Should limited liability companies continue to be treated differently than corporations for diversity-of-citizenship purposes? If a limited liability company’s citizenship continues to be determined by the citizenship of each of its members, how can a plaintiff get past the pleading stage if the identity of one or more members is unknown even after a diligent pre-filing investigation? In a recent precedential opinion, the Third Circuit in Lincoln Benefit Life Company v. AEI Life, LLC answered the latter question for the first time, holding that a plaintiff need not affirmatively allege the citizenship of each member of a defendant limited liability company to survive a motion to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. And in a separate concurrence targeted directly at the U.S. Supreme Court, the Third Circuit urged the Supreme Court to consider the former question and adopt a more practical rule for determining the citizenship of limited liability companies.
With the close of the United States Supreme Court’s 2013-14 term, we offer this wrap-up of the Court’s term, focusing on the Court’s most important business and commercial cases (excluding intellectual property opinions): Halliburton Co. v. Erica P. John Fund: The Court upheld the fraud-on-the-market theory first set forth in Basic Inc. v. Levinson, which allows investors to satisfy the reliance element of a section 10b-5 securities fraud claim by invoking a presumption that the price at which stock is purchased in an efficient market reflects all public, material information — including material misstatements.
U.S. Supreme Court Continues Trend of Narrowing Scope of General Jurisdiction Over Foreign Defendants
A trend is apparent only in hindsight. It is now reasonably clear that the United States Supreme Court has, over the last several years, restricted access to United States courts by litigants seeking to recover from foreign defendants for alleged wrongdoing outside of the United States. Thus, the Court has reinvigorated the presumption against the extraterritorial application of United States law (Morrison v. National Australia Bank); rejected the argument that foreign subsidiaries of a United States parent corporation would be amenable to suit based on general jurisdiction simply because a small percentage of their goods were continuously shipped to the forum state (Goodyear v. Brown); and held that the presumption against extraterritoriality applies to the Alien Tort Statute (Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum). Each decision had the effect of narrowing access to United States courts for claims against foreign corporations based upon conduct that took place outside of the United States.
Delaware Supreme Court Holds Valid International Forum Selection Clause Dispositive in Determining Jurisdiction
In National Industries Group (Holding) v. Carlyle Investment Management LLC, Delaware’s Supreme Court unanimously held that a valid forum selection clause is dispositive in determining which court has jurisdiction over disputes arising under the contract. Even if a foreign corporation is party to the contract, Carlyle holds that any considerations weighing in favor of applying the doctrine of international comity do not override an otherwise valid forum selection clause.
The Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvements Act (“FTAIA”) removes from the ambit of the Sherman Antitrust Act otherwise actionable anti-competitive conduct abroad that does not have a “direct, substantial, and reasonably foreseeable” effect on domestic commerce. Questions persist as to what effects qualify as being sufficiently “direct” and also whether the FTAIA is jurisdictional in nature or goes to the substantive merits of a claim. A recent decision out of the Southern District of New York addressed both questions in dismissing an antitrust suit brought by one Chinese corporation against its Chinese competitors.