“The burden on someone forced to defend a lawsuit in a far-flung forum is the same no matter who owns the courthouse.”
—Cory Andrews, WLF Vice President of Litigation

Click here for WLF’s brief.

WASHINGTON, DC—Washington Legal Foundation (WLF) today filed an amicus curiae brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to grant review in an important personal-jurisdiction case. Although the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2017 Bristol-Myers decision cut back on a court’s exercise of jurisdiction over out-of-state defendants, the Seventh Circuit held that Bristol-Myers does not apply in federal court. WLF’s amicus brief was joined by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The appeal arises from a suit under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The named plaintiff alleges that IQVIA, a Delaware healthcare-data company headquartered in Pennsylvania, violated the law when it sent two unsolicited faxes to an Illinois medical office. Seeking to represent a nationwide class of everyone in the United States who received an unsolicited fax from IQVIA, the plaintiff demands thousands of dollars in statutory damages per fax.  

Because due process strictly limits a court’s jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant to only those claims arising from the defendant’s contacts with the forum state, the Illinois district court dismissed all class claims unconnected to Illinois. The Seventh Circuit reversed, however, holding that Bristol-Myers does not apply to a federal court action arising under federal law.

As WLF’s brief shows, the Seventh Circuit’s deeply flawed holding, if left to stand, would erode Supreme Court precedent, undermine uniform application of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(k), and harm business as well as the judicial system. Highlighting the flaws in the appeals court’s analysis, WLF contends that review is needed to prevent the lower courts from transforming specific jurisdiction in a class action into “a loose and spurious form of general jurisdiction.”

Celebrating its 43rd year, WLF is America’s premier public-interest law firm and policy center advocating for free-market principles, limited government, individual liberty, and the rule of law.