“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court correctly joined the vast majority of courts to hold that consent-by-registration statutes violate the Due Process Clause.”
—John Masslon, WLF Senior Litigation Counsel
WASHINGTON, DC—On December 22, 2021, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court joined most other courts and correctly held the Due Process Clause bars States from exercising general jurisdiction over a corporation based only on the company’s registering to do business the State. The 7-0 ruling was a victory for Washington Legal Foundation, which filed an amicus curiae brief urging the court to affirm a trial court ruling holding that Pennsylvania’s long-term statue violates the due-process clause. WLF filed its brief with substantial pro bono assistance from James M. Beck of the firm Reed Smith LLP in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania’s long-arm statute, like many other States’ statutes, allows for the exercise of general jurisdiction over any company that registers to do business in the Commonwealth. That means that a suit by a Russian Citizen against a Chilean corporation over an accident in South Africa can be heard by that Pennsylvania’s courts if the Chilean corporation registers to do business there. In its decision today, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that this statute violates the Due Process Clause, which permits general jurisdiction only in those States where a company is at home.
WLF’s brief showed how the trial court’s ruling correctly applied the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent precedent on general jurisdiction. In Goodyear and Daimler, the Court held that a company is subject to general jurisdiction only in its State of incorporation and where it is headquartered. Statutes that allow a State to exercise general jurisdiction over other foreign corporations violate the Due Process Clause.
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