Re-Examining New York's Law of Personal Jurisdiction after Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. V. Brown and J. McIntyre Machinery, Ltd. V. Nicastro
Chase, Oscar G., Day, Lori Brooke, Albany Law Review
INTRODUCTION I. BACKGROUND II. GENERAL JURISDICTION A. The Supreme Court Cases: Goodyear, Helicopteros, and Perkins B. General Jurisdiction in New York III. SPECIFIC JURISDICTION A. The Supreme Court: Specific Jurisdiction and Due Process 1. Basic Doctrine 2. The Stream-of-Commerce Cases: Nicastro and Asahi B. Specific Jurisdiction in New York 1. 302(a)(1): "[T]ransacts any business within the state or contracts anywhere to supply goods or services in the state" 2. 302(a)(2): "[C]ommits a tortious act within the state" 3. 302(a)(3)(i): "[C]ommits a tortious act without the state causing injury to person or property within the state ... if he ... regularly does or solicits business, or engages in any other persistent course of conduct, or derives substantial revenue from goods used or consumed or services rendered, in the state" 4. 302(a)(3)(ii): "[C]ommits a tortious act without the state causing injury to person or property within the state, ... if he ... expects or should reasonably expect the act to have consequences in the state and derives substantial revenue from interstate or international commerce" 5. 302(a)(4): "[O]wns, uses or possesses any real property situated within the state" CONCLUSION
On June 27, 2011, the Supreme Court announced two decisions striking down state court rulings because they violated the constitutional limits governing the exercise of jurisdiction over foreign entities: Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, (1) in which the Court held that North Carolina had contravened the rules cabining "general" jurisdiction, (2) and J. McIntyre Machinery, Ltd. v. Nicastro, (3) in which the same fate befell New Jersey's attempt to rely on "specific" jurisdiction. (4) The two cases are significant not only because they reversed the state courts but also because over twenty years had passed since the Court had last decided a personal jurisdiction case, (5) leaving contemporary state courts to interpret an increasingly obsolete doctrine when dealing with relevant constitutional challenges. In the context of the present article, we address the important question: How do--or should--these cases affect New York's jurisdiction jurisprudence? In this article, we first describe the background cases that have informed the development of contemporary doctrines of personal jurisdiction. Second, we discuss the impact of Goodyear, pointing out that a reasonable reading of the case would require some restriction of New York's general jurisdiction over corporations. Third, we read the tea leaves left in the brew of the three different opinions--none of which commanded a majority--in Nicastro. We close with a conclusion and some observations.
While we believe that each of the cases will require some change in the law of personal jurisdiction of New York, the judicial response to them depends upon not only the case being applied--Goodyear or Nicastro--but also on the New York court to which the issue is presented. When faced with arguably conflicting rulings, the supreme courts and the appellate divisions should err on the side of following Court of Appeals precedent as opposed to that of the Supreme Court of the United States. This is because those courts are bound by the decisions of the Court of Appeals as well as by those of the United States Supreme Court and therefore must be extremely cautious in, as it were, "overruling" the Court of Appeals upon the authority of the Supreme Court unless the latter is crystal clear. The Court of Appeals has more freedom to adjust its own jurisprudence in the light of Supreme Court rulings and should not shrink from overruling its own precedents if doing so arguably would comport better with either of the cases discussed. …