Chavez v. Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC

Decision Date15 November 2021
Docket NumberS-1-SC-37489, No. S-1-SC-37490, No. S-1-SC-37491, No. S-1-SC-37536
Parties Amado CHAVEZ, Ramona Hernandez, Todd Lopez, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Edgar Chavez, Deceased, and Victor Chavez, Plaintiffs-Respondents, v. BRIDGESTONE AMERICAS TIRE OPERATIONS, LLC, a foreign company which is the successor to Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire, LLC, Defendant-Petitioner, and Crecencio Jaramillo, Magdalena Jaramillo, and Tire Club U.S.A., Inc., Defendants. and Gabriel Arturo Rascon Rodriguez; Rayito Del Carmen Gutierrez De Rascon; Javier Ortiz Tarango, Deceased; Lee Hunt, Representative of the Estate of Javier Ortiz Tarango; Berta Ebila Ramirez; Lorenza Susana Ortiz; Maritza Berenice Ortiz Ramirez; Carmen Tarango Castro; Cristian Antonio Romero Garcia, Deceased; Lee Hunt, Representative of the Estate of Cristian Antonio Romero Garcia; Roberto Romero and Hilda Tellez, Next Friends of C.D.R. and C.D.R., Minors; Roberto Romero, Individually; Lauro Cruz, Deceased; Lee Hunt, Representative of the Estate of Lauro Cruz; Oralia Najera; Maria Conception Cruz Najera, Individually and as Next Friend of L.M.A.C., a Minor; Carlos Cruz ; Olgalidia Cruz; Eufemio Cruz; Miguel Cruz; Perla Alejandra Cruz; Mayra Pamela Cruz; Maria Esther Cruz; Agustina Cruz; Javier Acosta Ramirez; Berenice Acosta; Jose Javier Acosta; Javier Acosta; Adrian Ramos, Individually and as Next Friend of R.A.R.R., A.R.R., Y.A.R.R., and A.R.R., Minors; Yadira Ruvalcaba De Ramos; Luis Canseco Vazquez, Individually and as Next Friend of G.C. and S.A.C., Minors; Guadalupe Lopez; Julia Canseco; Luis Raul Ortega Gabaldon; Jesus Alejandro Jimenez Ortega; and Ernesto Vargas Lopez, Plaintiffs-Respondents, v. Ford Motor Company and Cooper Tire and Rubber Company, Defendants-Petitioners, and Fernando Gaytan Bustos, Defendant-Respondent, and Fernando Gaytan Bustos, Cross-Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Ford Motor Company and Cooper Tire and Rubber Company, Cross-Defendants-Petitioners. and Manuel Edel Navarrete Rodriguez, Individually and as Personal Representative of the Estate of Edgar Navarrete Rodriguez, Deceased, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Ford Motor Company, Defendant-Petitioner, and Luis A. Ponce, Defendant. and Todd Furman; Leon Hunt, as the Personal Representative of the Estate of Renee Furman; Todd Lopez, as the Personal Representative of the Estate of Shyanne Wilbur and Nicole Wilbur; Melissa Wilt, Individually and as Legal Guardian for Megan Wilbur, an individual/minor; and Kristen Wilbur, Plaintiffs-Respondents, and Patrick A. Casey, as the Personal Representative of the Estate of Michelle L. Bates; Tricia Bates; and Christopher Bates, Intervenor/Plaintiffs-Respondents, v. The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, Defendant-Petitioner and Walter James Byers and The New Mexico Department of Transportation, Defendants.
CourtNew Mexico Supreme Court

Keleher & McLeod, P.A., Thomas C. Bird, Albuquerque, NM, for Petitioner

Jaramillo Law Firm, P.C., David Joseph Jaramillo, Albuquerque, NM, Liles White PLLC, Kevin W. Liles, Corpus Christi, TX, The Ammons Law Firm, John B. Gsanger, Houston, TX, for Respondents

UNM School of Law, David J. Stout, Michael B. Browde, Albuquerque, NM, for Amicus Curiae New Mexico Trial Lawyers Association

Snell & Wilmer LLP, Todd E. Rinner Albuquerque, NM, Hogan Lovells US LLP, Sean Marotta, Washington, DC, for Petitioner Ford Motor Company

Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP, Eric R. Burris, Albuquerque, NM Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP, Troy L. Vancil, San Antonio, TX, for Petitioner Cooper Tire and Rubber Company

Jaramillo Law Firm, PC, David Joseph Jaramillo, Albuquerque, NM Touchet Law Firm, PC, Maria E. Touchet, Albuquerque, NM, The Ammons Law Firm, John B. Gsanger, Houston, TX, Law Offices of James B. Ragan, James B. Ragan, Corpus Christi, TX, for Respondents

UNM School of Law, David J. Stout, Michael B. Browde, Albuquerque, NM, for Amicus Curiae New Mexico Trial Lawyers Association

Snell & Wilmer LLP, Todd E. Rinner, Albuquerque, NM, Hogan Lovells US LLP, Sean Marotta, Washington, DC, for Petitioner Ford Motor Company

Arrazolo Law, P.C., Gilbert Arrazolo, Albuquerque, NM, Law Offices of James B. Ragan, James B. Ragan, Corpus Christi, TX, for Respondent

UNM School of Law, David J. Stout, Michael B. Browde, Albuquerque, NM, for Amicus Curiae New Mexico Trial Lawyers Association

Modrall, Sperling, Roehl, Harris & Sisk, P.A., Donald A. DeCandia, Emil John Kiehne, Albuquerque, NM, Husch Blackwell, LLP, David M. Stauss, Denver, CO, for Petitioner Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company

Jaramillo Law Firm, David Joseph Jaramillo, Albuquerque, NM, Law Office of Natasha M. Hanna, P.C., Natasha Hanna, Myrtle Beach, SC, Greene Broillet & Wheeler LLP, Christine Spagnoli, Alan Van Gelder, Santa Monica, CA, Esner, Chang & Boyer, Stuart B. Esner, Shea S. Murphy, Pasadena, CA, for Respondents

Newsome Melton, PA, C. Richard Newsome, William C. Ourand, R. Frank Melton, II, Orlando, FL, Marks & Harrison, Kevin T. Hadden, Ryan T. Walker, J. Penn Crawford, Richmond, VA, for Intervener-Respondent

Atler Law Firm, P.C, Timothy J. Atler, Albuquerque, NM, Haynes and Boone, LLP, Mary-Christine Sungaila, Costa Mesa, CA, for Amicus Curiae Product Liability Advisory Council, Inc.

McGinn, Montoya, Love & Curry, PA, Kathleen J. Love, Albuquerque, NM, American Association for Justice

Jeffrey R. White, Washington, DC, for Amicus Curiae American Association for Justice

UNM School of Law, David J. Stout, Michael B. Browde, Albuquerque, NM, for Amicus Curiae New Mexico Trial Lawyers Association

BACON, Justice.

{1} This consolidated appeal involves important considerations about fairness to litigants and the sovereign limits of New Mexico. Herein, we consider whether a foreign corporation that registers to transact business and appoints a registered agent under Article 17 of New Mexico's Business Corporation Act (BCA), NMSA 1978 §§ 53-17-1 to -20 (1967, as amended through 2021), thereby consents to the exercise of general personal jurisdiction in New Mexico. If adhered to, this "consent by registration" basis for general personal jurisdiction would allow New Mexico courts to adjudicate all claims filed against a foreign corporation registered under the BCA, regardless of the nature or extent of any connection between our state and the claims asserted. Nearly thirty years ago, our Court of Appeals in Werner v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. , 1993-NMCA-112, ¶ 10, 116 N.M. 229, 861 P.2d 270, construed the BCA to require consent by registration. Confronted with the same issue now, we conclude that Werner ’s reasoning is outmoded and hold that the BCA does not compel a foreign corporation to consent to general personal jurisdiction.

{2} This question comes to us in the context of four interlocutory appeals upon orders denying the petitionersmotions to dismiss the claims against them for lack of general or specific personal jurisdiction. In three of the separate proceedings below, the Court of Appeals followed Werner and concluded that general personal jurisdiction was proper over the petitioners Ford Motor Company, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, and Cooper Tire & Rubber Company. Navarrete Rodriguez v. Ford Motor Co. , 2019-NMCA-023, ¶¶ 31-32, 458 P.3d 569 ; Chavez v. Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC , A-1-CA-36442, mem. op. ¶ 13, 2018 WL 7046630 (Ct. App. Dec. 21, 2018) (nonprecedential); Rascon Rodriguez v. Ford Motor Co. , A-1-CA-35910, mem. op. ¶ 13 (Ct. App. Dec. 21, 2018) (nonprecedential). In the fourth proceeding, the Court of Appeals denied petitioner Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company's application for interlocutory appeal on a similar issue. Furman v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. , A-1-CA-37818 (Ct. App. Jan 18, 2019). For ease of reference, we refer collectively to these four petitioning foreign corporations—all of whom are manufacturers of automobiles or automobile components and registered to transact business under the BCA—as "the Manufacturers."

{3} The Manufacturers challenge the reasoning of Werner and the three Court of Appeals opinions. The Manufacturers argue that the BCA does not require them to consent to general personal jurisdiction in New Mexico. They further argue that any exercise of jurisdiction premised on consent by registration would (a) violate their 14th Amendment due process rights under the United States Constitution, (b) create an unconstitutional condition by requiring the Manufacturers to waive their due process rights as a condition of transacting business in New Mexico, and (c) violate the Dormant Commerce Clause, U.S. Const. art. 1, § 8, cl. 3. The Manufacturers contend that the United States Supreme Court's personal jurisdiction jurisprudence following International Shoe Co. v. Washington Office of Unemployment Compensation & Placement , 326 U.S. 310, 66 S.Ct. 154, 90 L.Ed. 95 (1945), and most notably the opinion in Daimler AG v. Bauman , 571 U.S. 117, 134 S.Ct. 746, 187 L.Ed.2d 624 (2014), has limited the appropriate settings for general personal jurisdiction to those of a corporation's "at home" state of incorporation and principal place of business. Daimler , 571 U.S. at 138-39, 134 S.Ct. 746. The Manufacturers thus assert that contemporary personal jurisdiction jurisprudence has overruled, sub silentio , the pre- International Shoe case of Pennsylvania Fire Insurance Co. of Philadelphia v. Gold Issue Mining & Milling Co. , 243 U.S. 93, 95-96, 37 S.Ct. 344, 61 L.Ed. 610 (1917), which upheld the constitutionality of consent by registration.

{4} We acknowledge that the continuing viability of Pennsylvania Fire and consent by registration remains unsettled. See, e.g. , Ford Motor Co. v. Mont. Eighth Jud. Dist. Ct. , ––– U.S. ––––, 141 S. Ct. 1017, 1037 n.3, 209 L.Ed.2d 225 (2021) (Gorsuch, J., specially concurring) ("It is unclear what remains of the old ‘consent’ theory after International Shoe ’s criticism. Some courts read International Shoe and the cases that follow as effectively foreclosing it, while others insist it remains viable"...

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    ...alto-gether-and in no uncertain terms. See, e.g., Chavez v. Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC, 2022-NMSC-006, ¶¶1, 53-54, 503 P.3d 332, 336, 349 ("Reliance upon outdated legal fictions . . . would absurd and, as explained above, inconsistent with contemporary understandings of due p......
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    ...filed. Our Supreme Court issued its opinion in Chavez v. Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC (Chavez II), 2022-NMSC-006, ¶¶ 1, 5, 503 P.3d 332, in which the Court remanded the case to this Court with instructions to determine whether the district court may exercise specific personal j......
2 books & journal articles
  • Personal Jurisdiction and the Fairness Factor(s)
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    • Emory University School of Law Emory Law Journal No. 72-4, 2023
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