Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of Cal.

Decision Date19 June 2017
Docket NumberNo. 16–466.,16–466.
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

Neal Katyal, Washington, DC, for Petitioner.

Rachel P. Kovner, for the United States as amicus curiae, by special leave of the Court, supporting the petitioner.

Thomas C. Goldstein, Bethesda, MD, for Respondents.

Anand Agneshwar, Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP, New York, NY, Daniel S. Pariser, Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP, Washington, DC, Neal Kumar Katyal, Jessica L. Ellsworth, Frederick Liu, Sean Marotta, Mitchell P. Reich, Hogan Lovells US LLP, Washington, DC, Sara Solow, Hogan Lovells US LLP, Philadelphia, PA, for Petitioner.

Paul J. Napoli, Hunter J. Shkolnik, Marie Napoli, Shayna E. Sacks, Jennifer Liakos, Napoli Shkolnik PLLC, New York, NY, Thomas C. Goldstein, Eric F. Citron, Charles H. Davis, Goldstein & Russell, P.C., Bethesda, MD, for Respondents.

Justice ALITO delivered the opinion of the Court.

More than 600 plaintiffs, most of whom are not California residents, filed this civil action in a California state court against Bristol–Myers Squibb Company (BMS), asserting a variety of state-law claims based on injuries allegedly caused by a BMS drug called Plavix

. The California Supreme Court held that the California courts have specific jurisdiction to entertain the nonresidents' claims. We now reverse.


BMS, a large pharmaceutical company, is incorporated in Delaware and headquartered in New York, and it maintains substantial operations in both New York and New Jersey. 1 Cal.5th 783, 790, 206 Cal.Rptr.3d 636, 377 P.3d 874, 879 (2016). Over 50 percent of BMS's work force in the United States is employed in those two States. Ibid.

BMS also engages in business activities in other jurisdictions, including California. Five of the company's research and laboratory facilities, which employ a total of around 160 employees, are located there. Ibid. BMS also employs about 250 sales representatives in California and maintains a small state-government advocacy office in Sacramento. Ibid.

One of the pharmaceuticals that BMS manufactures and sells is Plavix

, a prescription drug that thins the blood and inhibits blood clotting. BMS did not develop Plavix in California, did not create a marketing strategy for Plavix in California, and did not manufacture, label, package, or work on the regulatory approval of the product in California. Ibid. BMS instead engaged in all of these activities in either New York or New Jersey. Ibid. But BMS does sell Plavix in California. Between 2006 and 2012, it sold almost 187 million Plavix pills in the State and took in more than $900 million from those sales. 1 Cal.5th, at 790–791, 206 Cal.Rptr.3d 636, 377 P.3d, at 879. This amounts to a little over one percent of the company's nationwide sales revenue. Id., at 790, 206 Cal.Rptr.3d 636, 377 P.3d, at 879.


A group of plaintiffs—consisting of 86 California residents and 592 residents from 33 other States—filed eight separate complaints in California Superior Court, alleging that Plavix

had damaged their health. Id., at 789, 206 Cal.Rptr.3d 636, 377 P.3d, at 878. All the complaints asserted 13 claims under California law, including products liability, negligent misrepresentation, and misleading advertising claims. Ibid. The nonresident plaintiffs did not allege that they obtained Plavix through California physicians or from any other California source; nor did they claim that they were injured by Plavix or were treated for their injuries in California.

Asserting lack of personal jurisdiction, BMS moved to quash service of summons on the nonresidents' claims, but the California Superior Court denied this motion, finding that the California courts had general jurisdiction over BMS "[b]ecause [it] engages in extensive activities in California." App. to Pet. for Cert. 150. BMS unsuccessfully petitioned the State Court of Appeal for a writ of mandate, but after our decision on general jurisdiction in Daimler AG v. Bauman, 571 U.S. ––––, 134 S.Ct. 746, 187 L.Ed.2d 624 (2014), the California Supreme Court instructed the Court of Appeal "to vacate its order denying mandate and to issue an order to show cause why relief sought in the petition should not be granted." App. 9–10.

The Court of Appeal then changed its decision on the question of general jurisdiction. 228 Cal.App.4th 605, 175 Cal.Rptr.3d 412 (2014). Under Daimler, it held, general jurisdiction was clearly lacking, but it went on to find that the California courts had specific jurisdiction over the nonresidents' claims against BMS. 228 Cal.App.4th 605, 175 Cal.Rptr.3d, at 425–439.

The California Supreme Court affirmed. The court unanimously agreed with the Court of Appeal on the issue of general jurisdiction, but the court was divided on the question of specific jurisdiction. The majority applied a "sliding scale approach to specific jurisdiction." 1 Cal.5th, at 806, 206 Cal.Rptr.3d 636, 377 P.3d, at 889. Under this approach, "the more wide ranging the defendant's forum contacts, the more readily is shown a connection between the forum contacts and the claim." Ibid. (internal quotation marks omitted). Applying this test, the majority concluded that "BMS's extensive contacts with California" permitted the exercise of specific jurisdiction "based on a less direct connection between BMS's forum activities and plaintiffs' claims than might otherwise be required." Ibid . This attenuated requirement was met, the majority found, because the claims of the nonresidents were similar in several ways to the claims of the California residents (as to which specific jurisdiction was uncontested). Id., at 803–806, 206 Cal.Rptr.3d 636, 377 P.3d, at 887–889. The court noted that "[b]oth the resident and nonresident plaintiffs' claims are based on the same allegedly defective product and the assertedly misleading marketing and promotion of that product." Id., at 804, 206 Cal.Rptr.3d 636, 377 P.3d, at 888. And while acknowledging that "there is no claim that Plavix

itself was designed and developed in [BMS's California research facilities]," the court thought it significant that other research was done in the State. Ibid .

Three justices dissented. "The claims of ... nonresidents injured by their use of Plavix

they purchased and used in other states," they wrote, "in no sense arise from BMS's marketing and sales of Plavix in California," and they found that the "mere similarity" of the residents' and nonresidents' claims was not enough. Id., at 819, 206 Cal.Rptr.3d 636, 377 P.3d, at 898 (opinion of Werdegar, J.). The dissent accused the majority of "expand[ing] specific jurisdiction to the point that, for a large category of defendants, it becomes indistinguishable from general jurisdiction." Id., at 816, 206 Cal.Rptr.3d 636, 377 P.3d, at 896.

We granted certiorari to decide whether the California courts' exercise of jurisdiction in this case violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. 580 U.S. ––––, 137 S.Ct. 827, 196 L.Ed.2d 610 (2017).1


It has long been established that the Fourteenth Amendment limits the personal jurisdiction of state courts. See, e.g., Daimler, supra, at –––– – ––––, 134 S.Ct., at 753–757 ; World–Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 291, 100 S.Ct. 559, 62 L.Ed.2d 490 (1980) ; International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316–317, 66 S.Ct. 154, 90 L.Ed. 95 (1945) ; Pennoyer v. Neff, 95 U.S. 714, 733, 24 L.Ed. 565 (1878). Because "[a] state court's assertion of jurisdiction exposes defendants to the State's coercive power," it is "subject to review for compatibility with the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause," Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 918, 131 S.Ct. 2846, 180 L.Ed.2d 796 (2011), which "limits the power of a state court to render a valid personal judgment against a nonresident defendant," World–Wide Volkswagen, supra, at 291, 100 S.Ct. 559. The primary focus of our personal jurisdiction inquiry is the defendant's relationship to the forum State. See Walden v. Fiore, 571 U.S. ––––, –––– – ––––, 134 S.Ct. 1115, 1121–1123, 188 L.Ed.2d 12 (2014) ; Phillips Petroleum Co. v. Shutts, 472 U.S. 797, 806–807, 105 S.Ct. 2965, 86 L.Ed.2d 628 (1985).

Since our seminal decision in International Shoe, our decisions have recognized two types of personal jurisdiction: "general" (sometimes called "all-purpose") jurisdiction and "specific" (sometimes called "case-linked") jurisdiction. Goodyear, 564 U.S., at 919, 131 S.Ct. 2846. "For an individual, the paradigm forum for the exercise of general jurisdiction is the individual's domicile; for a corporation, it is an equivalent place, one in which the corporation is fairly regarded as at home." Id ., at 924, 131 S.Ct. 2846. A court with general jurisdiction may hear any claim against that defendant, even if all the incidents underlying the claim occurred in a different State. Id., at 919, 131 S.Ct. 2846. But "only a limited set of affiliations with a forum will render a defendant amenable to" general jurisdiction in that State. Daimler, 571 U.S., at ––––, 134 S.Ct., at 760.

Specific jurisdiction is very different. In order for a state court to exercise specific jurisdiction, "the suit " must "aris[e] out of or relat[e] to the defendant's contacts with the forum ." Id., at ––––, 134 S.Ct., at 754 (internal quotation marks omitted; emphasis added); see Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 472–473, 105 S.Ct. 2174, 85 L.Ed.2d 528 (1985) ; Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 414, 104 S.Ct. 1868, 80 L.Ed.2d 404 (1984). In other words, there must be "an affiliation between the forum and the underlying controversy, principally, [an] activity or an occurrence that takes place in the forum State and is therefore subject to the State's regulation." Goodyear, 564 U.S., at 919, 131 S.Ct. 2846 (internal quotation marks and brackets omitted...

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