Big Auto’s High Court Jurisdictional Workaround Rebuffed


Professor Howard Erichson shared his expert opinion on the recent decision from the Supreme Court in favor of plaintiffs in product defect and negligence suits.

The justices on Thursday delivered a win to injured consumers and accident victims in a consolidated case involving allegedly defective Ford vehicles, saying big manufacturers like Ford with a global reach can expect to be sued in states where they do a substantial amount of business. The justices agreed that Ford’s “truckload of contacts” and business activities in Montana and Minnesota were enough for it to be sued in those states, rejecting the auto giant’s proposed workaround for existing rules on specific personal jurisdiction.
At the very least, the decision is a clear “common sense” win for plaintiffs who have hit some roadblocks in previous challenges before the high court, according to Fordham University School of Law professor Howard Erichson.
“Some of the court’s recent decisions on personal jurisdiction have lost sight of the practical questions about choosing a forum and about allocating judicial power,” he said. “The court’s majority has sometimes seemed sadly uninterested in protecting access to justice for plaintiffs in civil lawsuits. So today’s decision came as a breath of fresh air, even if it addresses a rather technical question of civil procedure.”

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