Limits of General Personal Jurisdiction Taken Up By Second Circuit

Yesterday, the Second Circuit affirmed the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut’s decision finding that Connecticut courts could not exercise general jurisdiction over a Maryland aerospace company.  The case was brought in Connecticut by a deceased worker’s daughter seeking to recover in tort for injuries related to asbestos exposure in locations outside Connecticut (the plaintiff was not trying to obtain specific personal jurisdiction over the company based on the company’s specific activities within the state).  The daughter (and her deceased father) resided in Alabama.  The aerospace company is registered to do business in Connecticut and leases office space and employs some workers in the state.

The Second Circuit’s opinion opened, “We confront here a nettlesome and increasingly contentious question about the import of a foreign corporation’s registration to conduct business and appointment of an agent for service of process in a state for the exercise of personal jurisdiction by that state’s courts over the registered corporation.”  Applying Daimler and Goodyear, the Second Circuit explained that “we comfortably conclude that [the company’s] contacts with Connecticut, while perhaps ‘continuous and systematic,’ fall well below the high level needed to place the corporation ‘essentially at home’ in the State.”  The court went on to find that the company’s decision to register to transact business and appoint an agent in Connecticut did not mean that the company consented to that state’s courts’ exercise of general jurisdiction over it.

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