Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court

Defendant corporation was subject to specific (though not general) personal jurisdiction in California, since it was not necessary for the plaintiffs to be California residents or to have claims that arise directly out of defendants’ California-related activities in order for their claims to “arise out of or be related to” the defendant’s forum-directed activities.  While general jurisdiction over a corporation is not limited to the state of its incorporation or principal place of business, the plaintiff must nevertheless show that the corporation’s conduct in the forum state is so substantial and of such a kind that it is “at home” there—by analogy to an individual’s domicile.  Mere registration to do business in the forum state and appointment of an agent for service of process there does not suffice to establish general jurisdiction.  Here, the defendant’s conduct in California, while substantial, did not show that it had ever made California its headquarters or home.  So plaintiffs could not establish general jurisdiction over it in California.  Specific jurisdiction depends on three factors: (1) has the defendant purposefully directed its activities at the forum state, (2) do the plaintiffs’ claims arise out of or are they related to the defendant’s forum-directed activities, and (3) is the exercise of personal jurisdiction reasonable and not a violation of traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.  Here, the defendant marketed its drug nationally, purposefully directing much of its activities of promoting and selling its drug toward California.  The nonresident plaintiffs’ claims arising from their use of the drug outside California were sufficiently connected to the defendant’s California contacts because they resulted from the nationwide promotion of the drug.  It was not necessary for the plaintiffs to be California residents or to have claims that arise directly out of defendants’ California-related activities.  Finally, California could exercise jurisdiction without offending traditional notions of fair play since it had a substantial interest in efficient litigation of claims of nonresidents that duplicated California residents’ claims.

California Supreme Court (Cantil-Sakauye, C.J.; Werdegar, Chin, & Corrigan, JJ., dissenting); August 29, 2016; 2016 WL 4506107

 

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