564 U.S. 915 (2011), 10-76, Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown

Docket Nº:10-76
Citation:564 U.S. 915, 131 S.Ct. 2846, 180 L.Ed.2d 796, 79 U.S.L.W. 4696, 22 Fla.L.Weekly Fed. S 1305
Opinion Judge:Ginsburg, Justice.
Party Name:GOODYEAR DUNLOP TIRES OPERATIONS, S. A., et al., Petitioners v. EDGAR D. BROWN, et ux., co-administrators of the ESTATE OF JULIAN DAVID BROWN, et al
Attorney:Meir Feder argued the cause for petitioners. Benjamin J. Horwich argued the cause for the United States, as amicus curiae, by special leave of court. Collyn Peddie argued the cause for respondents.
Judge Panel:Ginsburg, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.
Case Date:June 27, 2011
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page ___

___ U.S. ___ (2011)

131 S.Ct. 2846




No. 10-76

United States Supreme Court

June 27, 2011

Argued January 11, 2011


[131 S.Ct. 2848]Syllabus [*]

Respondents, North Carolina residents whose sons died in a bus acci­dent outside Paris, France, filed a suit for wrongful-death damages in North Carolina state court. Alleging that the accident was caused by tire failure, they named as defendants Goodyear USA, an Ohio corpo­ration, and petitioners, three Goodyear USA subsidiaries, organized and operating, respectively, in Luxembourg, Turkey, and France. Pe­titioners' tires are manufactured primarily for European and Asian markets and differ in size and construction from tires ordinarily sold in the United States. Petitioners are not registered to do business in North Carolina; have no place of business, employees, or bank ac­counts in the State; do not design, manufacture, or advertise their products in the State; and do not solicit business in the State or sell or ship tires to North Carolina customers. Even so, a small percent­age of their tires were distributed in North Carolina by other Good­year USA affiliates. The trial court denied petitioners' motion to dismiss the claims against them for want of personal jurisdiction. The North Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed, concluding that the North Carolina courts had general jurisdiction over petitioners, whose tires had reached the State through "the stream of commerce."

Held: Petitioners were not amenable to suit in North Carolina on claims unrelated to any activity of petitioners in the forum State. Pp. 2853 - 2858.

(a) The Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause sets the outer boundaries of a state tribunal's authority to proceed against a defendant. The pathmarking decision of International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 66 S.Ct. 154, 90 L.Ed. 95, provides that state courts may exercise personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state defendant who has "certain minimum contacts with [the State] such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend 'traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.' " Id., at 316, 66 S.Ct. 154. Endeavoring to give specific content to the "fair play and substantial justice" concept, the Court in International Shoe classified cases involving out-of-state corporate defendants. First, the Court recognized that jurisdiction could be asserted where the corporation's in-state activity is "continuous and systematic" and gave rise to the episode-in-suit. Id., at 317, 66 S.Ct. 154. It also observed that the commission of "single or occasional acts" in a State may be sufficient to render a corporation answerable in that State with respect to [131 S.Ct. 2849] those acts, though not with respect to matters unrelated to the forum con­nections. Id., at 318, m S.Ct. 154. These two categories compose what is now known as "specific jurisdiction." Helicopteros Nacionales de Colom­bia, S. A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 414, n. 8, 104 S.Ct. 1868, 80 L.Ed.2d 404. International Shoe distin­guished from cases that fit within the "specific jurisdiction" catego­ries, "instances in which the continuous corporate operations within a state [are] so substantial and of such a nature as to justify suit against it on causes of action arising from dealings entirely distinct from those activities." 326 U.S., at 318, 66 S.Ct. 154. Adjudicatory authority so grounded is now called "general jurisdiction." Helicopteros, 466 U.S., at 414, n. 9, 104 S.Ct. 1868. Since International Shoe, this Court's decisions have elaborated primarily on circumstances that warrant the exercise of specific jurisdiction. In only two decisions postdating International Shoe has this Court considered whether an out-of-state corporate de­fendant's in-state contacts were sufficiently "continuous and system­atic" to justify the exercise of general jurisdiction over claims unre­lated to those contacts: Perkins v. Benguet Consol. Mining Co., 342 U.S. 437, 72 S.Ct. 413, 96 L.Ed. 485; and Helicopteros, 466 U.S. 408, 104 S.Ct. 1868, 80 L.Ed.2d 404. Pp. 2853 - 2855.

(b) Petitioners lack "the kind of continuous and systematic general business contacts" necessary to allow North Carolina to entertain a suit against them unrelated to anything that connects them to the State. Helicopteros, 466 U.S., at 416, 104 S.Ct. 1868. The stream-of-commerce cases on which the North Carolina court relied relate to exercises of specific jurisdiction in products liability actions, in which a nonresident de­fendant, acting outside the forum, places in the stream of commerce a product that ultimately causes harm inside the forum. Many state long-arm statutes authorize courts to exercise specific jurisdiction over manufacturers when the events in suit, or some of them, oc­curred within the forum State. The North Carolina court's stream-of-commerce analysis elided the essential difference between case-specific and general jurisdiction. Flow of a manufacturer's products into the forum may bolster an affiliation germane to specific jurisdic­tion, see, e.g., World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 297, 100 S.Ct. 559, 62 L.Ed.2d 490; but ties serving to bolster the exercise of specific jurisdic­tion do not warrant a determination that, based on those ties, the fo­rum has general jurisdiction over a defendant. A corporation's "con­tinuous activity of some sorts within a state, " International Shoe instructed, "is not enough to support the demand that the corporation be amenable to suits unrelated to that activity." 326 U.S., at 318, 66 S.Ct. 154.

Measured against Helicopteros and Perkins, North Carolina is not a forum in which it would be permissible to subject petitioners to general jurisdiction. In the 1952 Perkins case, general jurisdiction was appropriately exercised over a Philippine corporation sued in Ohio, where the company's affairs were overseen during World War II. In Helicopteros, however, the survivors of U.S. citizens killed when a helicopter owned by a Colombian corporation crashed in Peru could not maintain wrongful-death actions against that corporation in Texas, where the company's contacts "consisted of sending its chief executive officer to Houston for a contract-negotiation session; accept­ing into its New York bank account checks drawn on a Houston bank; purchasing helicopters, equipment, and training services from [a Texas enterprise]; and sending personnel to [Texas] for training." 466 U.S., at 416, 104 S.Ct. 1868. These links to Texas did not "[131 S.Ct. 2850] constitute the kind of continuous and systematic general business contacts . . . found to ex­ist in Perkins, " and were insufficient to support the exercise of juris­diction over a claim that neither " 'ar[o]se out of' . . . no[r] related to" the defendant's activities in Texas. Id., at 415-416, 104 S.Ct. 1868. This Court sees no reason to differentiate from the ties to Texas held insufficient in Helicopteros, the sales of petitioners' tires sporadically made in North Carolina through intermediaries. Pp. 2854-2857.

(c) Neither below nor in their brief in opposition to the petition for certiorari did respondents urge disregard of petitioners' discrete status as subsidiaries and treatment of all Goodyear entities as a "unitary business, " so that jurisdiction over the parent would draw in the subsidiaries as well. Respondents have therefore forfeited this contention. Pp. 2856 - 2858.

199 N.C.App. 50, 681 S.E.2d 382, reversed.

Meir Feder, New York, NY, for Petitioners.

Benjamin J. Horwich, for United States, as amicus curiae, by special leave of the Court, supporting the Petitioners.

Collyn Peddie, Houston, TX, for Respondents.

James M. Brogan, Philadelphia, PA, William K. Davis, Chariot F. Wood, Bell, Davis & Pitt, Winston-Salem, NC, Glen D. Nager, Meir Feder, Samuel Estreicher, Eric E. Murphy, Rajeev Muttreja, Jones Day, New York, NY, for Petitioners.

David F. Kirby, William B. Bystrynski, C. Mark Holt, Kirby & Holt LLP, Raleigh, NC, Collyn A. Peddie, The Law Offices of Collyn Peddie, Houston, TX, for Respondents.


Ginsburg, Justice

This case concerns the jurisdiction of state courts over corporations organized and operating abroad. We address, in particular, this question: Are foreign subsidiaries of a United States parent corporation amenable to suit in state court on claims unrelated to any activity of the subsidiar­ies in the forum State?

A bus accident outside Paris that took the lives of two 13-year-old boys from North Carolina gave rise to the liti­gation we here consider. Attributing the accident to a defective tire manufactured in Turkey at the plant of a foreign subsidiary of The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Com­pany (Goodyear USA), the boys' parents commenced an action for...

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