BNSF Railway Company v. Tyrrell

SCOTUS Grants Review of Personal Jurisdiction Decision

Term: 2016 Term
Oral Argument Date:
Vote: Awaiting Decision
Questions Presented: 

Whether a state court may decline to follow this Court’s decision in Daimler AG v. Bauman, which held that the Due Process Clause forbids a state court from exercising general personal jurisdiction over a defendant that is not at home in the forum state, in a suit against an American defendant under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act.

U.S. Chamber's Position: 

The U.S. Chamber filed an amicus brief supporting review of a Montana Supreme Court decision that ignores the U.S. Supreme Court’s rules on the issue of general personal jurisdiction.  Ignoring the ruling in Daimler AG v. Bauman, the Montana Court permitted general personal jurisdiction to be exercised over the defendant even though it was not incorporated in Montana and did not maintain its principal place of business there.  In addition, the court erroneously commingled fundamental concepts of personal jurisdiction with venue, holding that the generous venue provision in the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (“FELA”) also subjected the defendant to the general personal jurisdiction of the Montana courts.

The Chamber’s brief urged the Court to take the case and re-confirm the supremacy of its personal jurisdiction rulings.  Further, the brief explains that, beyond its blatant disregard for the U.S. Supreme Court’s holdings, the Montana Supreme Court’s decision resurrects the unfairness and uncertainty in the personal jurisdiction context that the U.S. Supreme Court has gradually sought to eliminate.  Finally, the Chamber urged the Court to grant certiorari to deter state courts from continuing to disregard U.S. Supreme Court decisions they do not agree with, in violation of the Supremacy Clause.

The Chamber was joined on the brief by the Montana Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business, and the American Tort Reform Association.

Paul D. Clement, George W. Hicks, Jr., and Edmund G. LaCour, Jr. of Kirkland & Ellis LLP served as counsel for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on behalf of the U.S. Chamber Litigation Center.

Outcome Content: 

This case has not been decided yet on the merits.

Procedural History: 

Cert. petition filed 9/28/2016.

U.S. Chamber amicus brief filed 10/28/2016.

Cert. granted 1/13/2017.

Oral argument scheduled for 4/25/2017.