Supreme Court of the United States
ASAHI METAL INDUSTRY CO., LTD., Petitioner
SUPERIOR COURT OF CALIFORNIA, SOLANO COUNTY (Cheng Shin Rubber
Industrial Co., Ltd., Real Party in Interest).
Argued Nov. 5, 1986.
Decided Feb. 24, 1987.
Japanese manufacturer of valve stems, cross-claimed defendant,
sought by petition for
writ of mandate to compel Superior Court to quash summons upon it in state products liability
action. The Superior Court, Solano County, denied petition. On appeal, the Court of Appeal
issued peremptory writ of mandate commanding Superior Court to quash service of summons,
and review was granted. The Supreme Court of California, 39 Cal.3d 35, 216 Cal.Rptr. 385,
702 P.2d 543, reversed and discharged the writ, and certiorari was granted. The Supreme
Court, Justice O'Connor, held that exercise of jurisdiction by California court over Japanese
manufacturer would be unreasonable and unfair.
Reversed and remanded.
Justice Brennan concurred in part and in the judgment and filed
opinion in which Justices
White, Marshall and Blackmun joined.
Justice Stevens concurred in part and in the judgment and filed
opinion in which Justices
White and Blackmun joined.
Order on remand, 236 Cal.Rptr. 153, 734 P.2d 989.
Justice O'CONNOR announced the judgment of the Court and delivered
opinion of the Court with respect to Part I, the opinion of the Court with respect to Part II-B,
in which THE CHIEF JUSTICE, Justice BRENNAN, Justice WHITE, Justice MARSHALL,
Justice BLACKMUN, Justice POWELL, and Justice STEVENS join, and an opinion with
respect to Parts II-A and III, in which THE CHIEF JUSTICE, Justice POWELL, and Justice
This case presents the question whether the mere awareness on
the part of a foreign
defendant that the components it manufactured, sold, and delivered outside the United States
would reach the forum State in the stream of commerce constitutes "minimum contacts"
between the defendant and the forum State such that the exercise of jurisdiction "does not
offend 'traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.' " International Shoe Co. v.
Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316, 66 S.Ct. 154, 158, 90 L.Ed. 95 (1945), quoting Milliken v.
Meyer, 311 U.S. 457, 463, 61 S.Ct. 339, 342, 85 L.Ed. 278 (1940).
On September 23, 1978, on Interstate Highway 80 in Solano County,
Zurcher lost control of his Honda motorcycle and collided with a tractor. Zurcher was severely
injured, and his passenger and wife, Ruth Ann Moreno, was killed. In September 1979,
Zurcher filed a product liability action in the Superior Court of the State of California in and for
the County of Solano. Zurcher alleged that the 1978 accident was caused by a sudden loss of
air and an explosion in the rear tire of the motorcycle, and alleged that the motorcycle tire,
tube, and sealant were defective. Zurcher's complaint named, inter alia, Cheng Shin Rubber
Industrial Co., Ltd. (Cheng Shin), the Taiwanese manufacturer of the tube. Cheng Shin in turn
filed a cross-complaint seeking indemnification from its codefendants and from petitioner,
Asahi Metal Industry Co., Ltd. (Asahi), the manufacturer of the tube's valve assembly.
Zurcher's claims against Cheng Shin and the other defendants were eventually settled and
dismissed, leaving only Cheng Shin's indemnity action against Asahi. California's long-arm
statute authorizes the exercise of jurisdiction "on any basis not inconsistent with the Constitution
of this state or of the United States." Cal.Civ.Proc.Code Ann. § 410.10 (West 1973). Asahi
moved to quash Cheng Shin's service of summons, arguing the State could not exert
jurisdiction over it consistent with the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
In relation to the motion, the following information was submitted
by Asahi and Cheng
Shin. Asahi is a Japanese corporation. It manufactures tire valve assemblies in Japan and sells
the assemblies to Cheng Shin, and to several other tire manufacturers, for use as components in
finished tire tubes. Asahi's sales to Cheng Shin took place in Taiwan. The shipments from
Asahi to Cheng Shin were sent from Japan to Taiwan. Cheng Shin bought and incorporated
into its tire tubes 150,000 Asahi valve assemblies in 1978; 500,000 in 1979; 500,000 in 1980;
100,000 in 1981; and 100,000 in 1982. Sales to Cheng Shin accounted for 1.24 percent of
Asahi's income in 1981 and 0.44 percent in 1982. Cheng Shin alleged that approximately 20
percent of its sales in the United States are in California. Cheng Shin purchases valve
assemblies from other suppliers as well, and sells finished tubes throughout the world.
In 1983 an attorney for Cheng Shin conducted an informal examination
of the valve
stems of the tire tubes sold in one cycle store in Solano County. The attorney declared that of
the approximately 115 tire tubes in the store, 97 were purportedly manufactured in Japan or
Taiwan, and of those 97, 21 valve stems were marked with the circled letter "A", apparently
Asahi's trademark. Of the 21 Asahi valve stems, 12 were incorporated into Cheng Shin tire
tubes. The store contained 41 other Cheng Shin tubes that incorporated the valve assemblies
of other manufacturers. Declaration of Kenneth B. Shepard in Opposition to Motion to Quash
Subpoena, App. to Brief for Respondent 5-6. An affidavit of a manager of Cheng Shin whose
duties included the purchasing of component parts stated: " 'In discussions with Asahi regarding
the purchase of valve stem assemblies the fact that my Company sells tubes throughout the
world and specifically the United States has been discussed. I am informed and believe that
Asahi was fully aware that valve stem assemblies sold to my Company and to others would
end up throughout the United States and in California.' " 39 Cal.3d 35, 48, n. 4, 216 Cal.Rptr.
385, 392, n. 4, 702 P.2d 543, 549-550, n. 4 (1985). An affidavit of the president of Asahi, on
the other hand, declared that Asahi " 'has never contemplated that its limited sales of tire valves
to Cheng Shin in Taiwan would subject it to lawsuits in California.' '' Ibid. The record does not
include any contract between Cheng Shin and Asahi. Tr. of Oral Arg. 24.
Primarily on the basis of the above information, the Superior
Court denied the motion to
quash summons, stating: "Asahi obviously does business on an international scale. It is not
unreasonable that they defend claims of defect in their product on an international scale." Order
Denying Motion to Quash Summons, Zurcher v. Dunlop Tire & Rubber Co., No. 76180
(Super.Ct., Solano County, Cal., Apr. 20, 1983).
The Court of Appeal of the State of California issued a peremptory
writ of mandate
commanding the Superior Court to quash service of summons. The court concluded that "it
would be unreasonable to require Asahi to respond in California solely on the basis of
ultimately realized foreseeability that the product into which its component was embodied
would be sold all over the world including California." App. to Pet. for Cert. B5-B6.
The Supreme Court of the State of California reversed and discharged
the writ issued by
the Court of Appeal. 39 Cal.3d 35, 216 Cal.Rptr. 385, 702 P.2d 543 (1985). The court
observed: "Asahi has no offices, property or agents in California. It solicits no business in
California and has made no direct sales [in California]." Id., at 48, 216 Cal.Rptr., at 392, n. 4,
702 P.2d, at 549. Moreover, "Asahi did not design or control the system of distribution that
carried its valve assemblies into California." Id., at 49, 216 Cal.Rptr., at 392, 702 P.2d, at
549. Nevertheless, the court found the exercise of jurisdiction over Asahi to be consistent with
the Due Process Clause. It concluded that Asahi knew that some of the valve assemblies sold
to Cheng Shin would be incorporated into tire tubes sold in California, and that Asahi
benefitted indirectly from the sale in California of products incorporating its components. The
court considered Asahi's intentional act of placing its components into the stream of
commerce--that is, by delivering the components to Cheng Shin in Taiwan--coupled with
Asahi's awareness that some of the components would eventually find their way into California,
sufficient to form the basis for state court jurisdiction under the Due Process Clause.
We granted certiorari, 475 U.S. 1044, 106 S.Ct. 1258, 89 L.Ed.2d
569 (1986), and
The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment limits the
power of a state court
to exert personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant. "[T]he constitutional touchstone" of
the determination whether an exercise of personal jurisdiction comports with due process
"remains whether the defendant purposefully established 'minimum contacts' in the forum
State." Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 474, 105 S.Ct. 2174, 2183, 85
L.Ed.2d 528 (1985), quoting International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S., at 316, 66
S.Ct., at 158. Most recently we have reaffirmed the oft-quoted reasoning of Hanson v.
Denckla, 357 U.S. 235, 253, 78 S.Ct. 1228, 1239, 2 L.Ed.2d 1283 (1958), that minimum
contacts must have a basis in "some act by which the defendant purposefully avails itself of the
privilege of conducting activities within the forum State, thus invoking the benefits and
protections of its laws." Burger King, 471 U.S., at 475, 105 S.Ct., at 2183. "Jurisdiction is
proper ... where the contacts proximately result from actions by the defendant himself that
create a 'substantial connection' with the forum State." Ibid., quoting McGee v. International
Life Insurance Co., 355 U.S. 220, 223, 78 S.Ct. 199, 201, 2 L.Ed.2d 223 (1957) (emphasis
Applying the principle that minimum contacts must be based on
an act of the defendant,
the Court in World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 100 S.Ct. 559, 62
L.Ed.2d 490 (1980), rejected the assertion that a consumer's unilateral act of bringing the
defendant's product into the forum State was a sufficient constitutional basis for personal
jurisdiction over the defendant. It had been argued in World-Wide Volkswagen that because
an automobile retailer and its wholesale distributor sold a product mobile by design and
purpose, they could foresee being haled into court in the distant States into which their
customers might drive. The Court rejected this concept of foreseeability as an insufficient basis
for jurisdiction under the Due Process Clause. Id., at 295-296, 100 S.Ct., at 566. The Court
disclaimed, however, the idea that "foreseeability is wholly irrelevant" to personal jurisdiction,
concluding that "[t]he forum State does not exceed its powers under the Due Process Clause if
it asserts personal jurisdiction over a corporation that delivers its products into the stream of
commerce with the expectation that they will be purchased by consumers in the forum State."
Id., at 297-298, 100 S.Ct., at 567 (citation omitted). The Court reasoned: "When a
corporation 'purposefully avails itself of the privilege of conducting activities within the forum
State,' Hanson v. Denckla, 357 U.S. [235,] 253 [78 S.Ct. 1228, 1239, 2 L.Ed.2d 1283
(1958) ], it has clear notice that it is subject to suit there, and can act to alleviate the risk of
burdensome litigation by procuring insurance, passing the expected costs on to customers, or,
if the risks are too great, severing its connection with the State. Hence if the sale of a product
of a manufacturer or distributor ... is not simply an isolated occurrence, but arises from the
efforts of the manufacturer or distributor to serve, directly or indirectly, the market for its
product in other States, it is not unreasonable to subject it to suit in one of those States if its
allegedly defective merchandise has there been the source of injury to its owners or to others."
Id., at 297, 100 S.Ct., at 567.
In World-Wide Volkswagen itself, the state court sought to base
jurisdiction not on any
act of the defendant, but on the foreseeable unilateral actions of the consumer. Since
World-Wide Volkswagen, lower courts have been confronted with cases in which the
defendant acted by placing a product in the stream of commerce, and the stream eventually
swept defendant's product into the forum State, but the defendant did nothing else to
purposefully avail itself of the market in the forum State. Some courts have understood the Due
Process Clause, as interpreted in World-Wide Volkswagen, to allow an exercise of personal
jurisdiction to be based on no more than the defendant's act of placing the product in the
stream of commerce. Other courts have understood the Due Process Clause and the
above-quoted language in World- Wide Volkswagen to require the action of the defendant to
be more purposefully directed at the forum State than the mere act of placing a product in the
stream of commerce.
The reasoning of the Supreme Court of California in the present
case illustrates the
former interpretation of World-Wide Volkswagen. The Supreme Court of California held that,
because the stream of commerce eventually brought some valves Asahi sold Cheng Shin into
California, Asahi's awareness that its valves would be sold in California was sufficient to permit
California to exercise jurisdiction over Asahi consistent with the requirements of the Due
Process Clause. The Supreme Court of California's position was consistent with those courts
that have held that mere foreseeability or awareness was a constitutionally sufficient basis for
personal jurisdiction if the defendant's product made its way into the forum State while still in
the stream of commerce. See Bean Dredging Corp. v. Dredge Technology Corp., 744 F.2d
1081 (CA5 1984); Hedrick v. Daiko Shoji Co., 715 F.2d 1355 (CA9 1983).
Other courts, however, have understood the Due Process Clause
to require something
more than that the defendant was aware of its product's entry into the forum State through the
stream of commerce in order for the State to exert jurisdiction over the defendant. In the
present case, for example, the State Court of Appeal did not read the Due Process Clause, as
interpreted by World-Wide Volkswagen, to allow "mere foreseeability that the product will
enter the forum state [to] be enough by itself to establish jurisdiction over the distributor and
retailer." App. to Pet. for Cert. B5. In Humble v. Toyota Motor Co., 727 F.2d 709 (CA8
1984), an injured car passenger brought suit against Arakawa Auto Body Company, a
Japanese corporation that manufactured car seats for Toyota. Arakawa did no business in the
United States; it had no office, affiliate, subsidiary, or agent in the United States; it
manufactured its component parts outside the United States and delivered them to Toyota
Motor Company in Japan. The Court of Appeals, adopting the reasoning of the District Court
in that case, noted that although it "does not doubt that Arakawa could have foreseen that its
product would find its way into the United States," it would be "manifestly unjust" to require
Arakawa to defend itself in the United States. Id., at 710-711, quoting 578 F.Supp. 530, 533
(ND Iowa 1982). See also Hutson v. Fehr Bros.,
Inc., 584 F.2d 833 (CA8 1978); see generally Max Daetwyler Corp.
v. R. Meyer, 762
F.2d 290, 299 (CA3 1985) (collecting "stream of commerce" cases in which the
"manufacturers involved had made deliberate decisions to market their products in the forum
We now find this latter position to be consonant with the requirements
of due process.
The "substantial connection," Burger King, 471 U.S., at 475, 105 S.Ct., at 2184; McGee, 355
U.S., at 223, 78 S.Ct., at 201, between the defendant and the forum State necessary for a
finding of minimum contacts must come about by an action of the defendant purposefully
directed toward the forum State. Burger King, supra, 471 U.S., at 476, 105 S.Ct., at 2184;
Keeton v. Hustler Magazine, Inc., 465 U.S. 770, 774, 104 S.Ct. 1473, 1478, 79 L.Ed.2d
790 (1984). The placement of a product into the stream of commerce, without more, is not an
act of the defendant purposefully directed toward the forum State. Additional conduct of the
defendant may indicate an intent or purpose to serve the market in the forum State, for
example, designing the product for the market in the forum State, advertising in the forum
State, establishing channels for providing regular advice to customers in the forum State, or
marketing the product through a distributor who has agreed to serve as the sales agent in the
forum State. But a defendant's awareness that the stream of commerce may or will sweep the
product into the forum State does not convert the mere act of placing the product into the
stream into an act purposefully directed toward the forum State.
Assuming, arguendo, that respondents have established Asahi's
awareness that some of
the valves sold to Cheng Shin would be incorporated into tire tubes sold in California,
respondents have not demonstrated any action by Asahi to purposefully avail itself of the
California market. Asahi does not do business in California. It has no office, agents,
employees, or property in California. It does not advertise or otherwise solicit business in
California. It did not create, control, or employ the distribution system that brought its valves to
California. Cf. Hicks v. Kawasaki Heavy Industries, 452 F.Supp. 130 (MD Pa.1978). There
is no evidence that Asahi designed its product in anticipation of sales in California. Cf.
Rockwell International Corp. v. Costruzioni Aeronautiche Giovanni Agusta, 553 F.Supp. 328
(ED Pa.1982). On the basis of these facts, the exertion of personal jurisdiction over Asahi by
the Superior Court of California1 exceeds the limits of due process.
The strictures of the Due Process Clause forbid a state court
to exercise personal
jurisdiction over Asahi under circumstances that would offend " 'traditional notions of fair play
and substantial justice.' " International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S., at 316, 66 S.Ct., at
158; quoting Milliken v. Meyer, 311 U.S., at 463, 61 S.Ct., at 342.
We have previously explained that the determination of the reasonableness
exercise of jurisdiction in each case will depend on an evaluation of several factors. A court
must consider the burden on the defendant, the interests of the forum State, and the plaintiff's
interest in obtaining relief. It must also weigh in its determination "the interstate judicial system's
interest in obtaining the most efficient resolution of controversies; and the shared interest of the
several States in furthering fundamental substantive social policies." World-Wide Volkswagen,
444 U.S., at 292, 100 S.Ct., at 564 (citations omitted).
A consideration of these factors in the present case clearly reveals
of the assertion of jurisdiction over Asahi, even apart from the question of the placement of
goods in the stream of commerce.
Certainly the burden on the defendant in this case is severe.
Asahi has been commanded
by the Supreme Court of California not only to traverse the distance between Asahi's
headquarters in Japan and the Superior Court of California in and for the County of Solano,
but also to submit its dispute with Cheng Shin to a foreign nation's judicial system. The unique
burdens placed upon one who must defend oneself in a foreign legal system should have
significant weight in assessing the reasonableness of stretching the long arm of personal
jurisdiction over national borders.
When minimum contacts have been established, often the interests
of the plaintiff and the
forum in the exercise of jurisdiction will justify even the serious burdens placed on the alien
defendant. In the present case, however, the interests of the plaintiff and the forum in
California's assertion of jurisdiction over Asahi are slight. All that remains is a claim for
indemnification asserted by Cheng Shin, a Taiwanese corporation, against Asahi. The
transaction on which the indemnification claim is based took place in Taiwan; Asahi's
components were shipped from Japan to Taiwan. Cheng Shin has not demonstrated that it is
more convenient for it to litigate its indemnification claim against Asahi in California rather than
in Taiwan or Japan.
Because the plaintiff is not a California resident, California's
legitimate interests in the
dispute have considerably diminished. The Supreme Court of California argued that the State
had an interest in "protecting its consumers by ensuring that foreign manufacturers comply with
the state's safety standards." 39 Cal.3d, at 49, 216 Cal.Rptr., at 392, 702 P.2d, at 550. The
State Supreme Court's definition of California's interest, however, was overly broad. The
dispute between Cheng Shin and Asahi is primarily about indemnification rather than safety
standards. Moreover, it is not at all clear at this point that California law should govern the
question whether a Japanese corporation should indemnify a Taiwanese corporation on the
basis of a sale made in Taiwan and a shipment of goods from Japan to Taiwan. Phillips
Petroleum Co. v. Shutts, 472 U.S. 797, 821-822, 105 S.Ct. 2965, 2979-2980, 86 L.Ed.2d
628 (1985); Allstate Insurance Co. v. Hague, 449 U.S. 302, 312-313, 101 S.Ct. 633,
639-640, 66 L.Ed.2d 521 (1981). The possibility of being haled into a California court as a
result of an accident involving Asahi's components undoubtedly creates an additional deterrent
to the manufacture of unsafe components; however, similar pressures will be placed on Asahi
by the purchasers of its components as long as those who use Asahi components in their final
products, and sell those products in California, are subject to the application of California tort
World-Wide Volkswagen also admonished courts to take into consideration
of the "several States," in addition to the forum State, in the efficient judicial resolution of the
dispute and the advancement of substantive policies. In the present case, this advice calls for a
court to consider the procedural and substantive policies of other nations whose interests are
affected by the assertion of jurisdiction by the California court. The procedural and substantive
interests of other nations in a state court's assertion of jurisdiction over an alien defendant will
differ from case to case. In every case, however, those interests, as well as the Federal interest
in Government's foreign relations policies, will be best served by a careful inquiry into the
reasonableness of the assertion of jurisdiction in the particular case, and an unwillingness to find
the serious burdens on an alien defendant outweighed by minimal interests on the part of the
plaintiff or the forum State. "Great care and reserve should be exercised when extending our
notions of personal jurisdiction into the international field." United States v. First National City
Bank, 379 U.S. 378, 404, 85 S.Ct. 528, 542, 13 L.Ed.2d 365 (1965) (Harlan, J., dissenting).
See Born, Reflections on Judicial Jurisdiction in International Cases, to be published in 17
Ga.J. Int'l & Comp. L. 1 (1987).
Considering the international context, the heavy burden on the
alien defendant, and the
slight interests of the plaintiff and the forum State, the exercise of personal jurisdiction by a
California court over Asahi in this instance would be unreasonable and unfair.
Because the facts of this case do not establish minimum contacts
such that the exercise of
personal jurisdiction is consistent with fair play and substantial justice, the judgment of the
Supreme Court of California is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings not
inconsistent with this opinion.
It is so ordered.
Justice BRENNAN, with whom Justice WHITE, Justice MARSHALL, and
BLACKMUN join, concurring in part and concurring in the judgment.
I do not agree with the interpretation in Part II-A of the stream-of-commerce
with the conclusion that Asahi did not "purposely avail itself of the California market." Ante, at
1034. I do agree, however, with the Court's conclusion in Part II-B that the exercise of
personal jurisdiction over Asahi in this case would not comport with "fair play and substantial
justice," International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 320, 66 S.Ct. 154, 160, 90
L.Ed. 95 (1945). This is one of those rare cases in which "minimum requirements inherent in
the concept of 'fair play and substantial justice' ... defeat the reasonableness of jurisdiction even
[though] the defendant has purposefully engaged in forum activities." Burger King Corp. v.
Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 477-478, 105 S.Ct. 2174, 2184-2185, 85 L.Ed.2d 528 (1985). I
therefore join Parts I and II-B of the Court's opinion, and write separately to explain my
disagreement with Part II-A.
Part II-A states that "a defendant's awareness that the stream
of commerce may or will
sweep the product into the forum State does not convert the mere act of placing the product
into the stream into an act purposefully directed toward the forum State." Ante, at 1033. Under
this view, a plaintiff would be required to show "[a]dditional conduct" directed toward the
forum before finding the exercise of jurisdiction over the defendant to be consistent with the
Due Process Clause. Ibid. I see no need for such a showing, however. The stream of
commerce refers not to unpredictable currents or eddies, but to the regular and anticipated
flow of products from manufacture to distribution to retail sale. As long as a participant in this
process is aware that the final product is being marketed in the forum State, the possibility of a
lawsuit there cannot come as a surprise. Nor will the litigation present a burden for which there
is no corresponding benefit. A defendant who has placed goods in the stream of commerce
benefits economically from the retail sale of the final product in the forum State, and indirectly
benefits from the State's laws that regulate and facilitate commercial activity. These benefits
accrue regardless of whether that participant directly conducts business in the forum State, or
engages in additional conduct directed toward that State. Accordingly, most courts and
commentators have found that jurisdiction premised on the placement of a product into the
stream of commerce is consistent with the Due Process Clause, and have not required a
showing of additional conduct. [footnote omitted.]
The endorsement in Part II-A of what appears to be the minority
view among Federal
Courts of Appeals [footnote omitted] represents a marked retreat from the analysis in
World-Wide Volkswagen v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 100 S.Ct. 559, 62 L.Ed.2d 490
(1980). In that case, "respondents [sought] to base jurisdiction on one, isolated occurrence
and whatever inferences can be drawn therefrom: the fortuitous circumstance that a single Audi
automobile, sold in New York to New York residents, happened to suffer an accident while
passing through Oklahoma." Id., at 295, 100 S.Ct., at 566. The Court held that the possibility
of an accident in Oklahoma, while to some extent foreseeable in light of the inherent mobility of
the automobile, was not enough to establish minimum contacts between the forum State and
the retailer or distributor. Id., at 295-296, 100 S.Ct., at 566. The Court then carefully
explained: "[T]his is not to say, of course, that foreseeability is wholly irrelevant. But the
foreseeability that is critical to due process analysis is not the mere likelihood that a product will
find its way into the forum State. Rather, it is that the defendant's conduct and connection with
the forum State are such that he should reasonably anticipate being haled into Court there." Id.,
at 297, 100 S.Ct., at 567.
The Court reasoned that when a corporation may reasonably anticipate
litigation in a
particular forum, it cannot claim that such litigation is unjust or unfair, because it "can act to
alleviate the risk of burdensome litigation by procuring insurance, passing the expected costs on
to consumers, or, if the risks are too great, severing its connection with the State." Ibid.
To illustrate the point, the Court contrasted the foreseeability
of litigation in a State to
which a consumer fortuitously transports a defendant's product (insufficient contacts) with the
foreseeability of litigation in a State where the defendant's product was regularly sold (sufficient
contacts). The Court stated:
"Hence if the sale of a product of a manufacturer or distributor
such as Audi or
Volkswagen is not simply an isolated occurrence, but arises from the efforts of the
manufacturer or distributor to serve, directly or indirectly, the market for its product in other
States, it is not unreasonable to subject it to suit in one of those States if its allegedly defective
merchandise has there been the source of injury to its owner or to others. The forum State
does not exceed its powers under the Due Process Clause if it asserts personal jurisdiction
over a corporation that delivers its products into the stream of commerce with the expectation
that they will be purchased by consumers in the forum State." Id., at 297-298, 100 S.Ct., at
567 (emphasis added).
The Court concluded its illustration by referring to Gray v. American
Standard Sanitary Corp., 22 Ill.2d 432, 176 N.E.2d 761 (1961), a well-known
stream-of-commerce case in which the Illinois Supreme Court applied the theory to assert
jurisdiction over a component-parts manufacturer that sold no components directly in Illinois,
but did sell them to a manufacturer who incorporated them into a final product that was sold in
Illinois. 444 U.S., at 297-298, 100 S.Ct., at 567.
The Court in World-Wide Volkswagen thus took great care to distinguish
case involving goods which reach a distant State through a chain of distribution and a case
involving goods which reach the same State because a consumer ... took them there." Id., at
306-307, 100 S.Ct., at 584 (BRENNAN, J., dissenting). [footnote omitted] The California
Supreme Court took note of this distinction, and correctly concluded that our holding in
World-Wide Volkswagen preserved the stream-of-commerce theory. See App. to Pet. for
Cert. C-9, and n. 3, C-13--C-15; cf. Comment, Federalism, Due Process, and Minimum
Contacts: World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 80 Colum.L.Rev. 1341, 1359-1361,
and nn. 140-146 (1980).
In this case, the facts found by the California Supreme Court
support its finding of
minimum contacts. The court found that "[a]lthough Asahi did not design or control the system
of distribution that carried its valve assemblies into California, Asahi was aware of the
distribution system's operation, and it knew that it would benefit economically from the sale in
California of products incorporating its components." App. to Pet. for Cert. C-11.2
Accordingly, I cannot join the determination in Part II-A that Asahi's regular and extensive
sales of component parts to a manufacturer it knew was making regular sales of the final
product in California is insufficient to establish minimum contacts with California.
Justice STEVENS, with whom Justice WHITE and Justice BLACKMUN
concurring in part and concurring in the judgment.
The judgment of the Supreme Court of California should be reversed
for the reasons
stated in Part II-B of the Court's opinion. While I join Parts I and II-B, I do not join Part II-A
for two reasons. First, it is not necessary to the Court's decision. An examination of minimum
contacts is not always necessary to determine whether a state court's assertion of personal
jurisdiction is constitutional. See Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 476-478,
105 S.Ct. 2174, 2184-2185, 85 L.Ed.2d 528 (1985). Part II- B establishes, after considering
the factors set forth in World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 292, 100
S.Ct. 559, 564, 62 L.Ed.2d 490 (1980), that California's exercise of jurisdiction over Asahi in
this case would be "unreasonable and unfair." Ante, at 1035. This finding alone requires
reversal; this case fits within the rule that "minimum requirements inherent in the concept of 'fair
play and substantial justice' may defeat the reasonableness of jurisdiction even if the defendant
has purposefully engaged in forum activities." Burger King, 471 U.S., at 477- 478, 105 S.Ct.,
at 2184-2185 (quoting International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 320, 66 S.Ct.
154, 160, 90 L.Ed. 95 (1945)). Accordingly, I see no reason in this case for the plurality to
articulate "purposeful direction" or any other test as the nexus between an act of a defendant
and the forum State that is necessary to establish minimum contacts.
Second, even assuming that the test ought to be formulated here,
Part II-A misapplies it
to the facts of this case. The plurality seems to assume that an unwavering line can be drawn
between "mere awareness" that a component will find its way into the forum State and
"purposeful availment" of the forum's market. Ante, at 1033. Over the course of its dealings
with Cheng Shin, Asahi has arguably engaged in a higher quantum of conduct than "[t]he
placement of a product into the stream of commerce, without more...." Ibid. Whether or not
this conduct rises to the level of purposeful availment requires a constitutional determination
that is affected by the volume, the value, and the hazardous character of the components. In
most circumstances I would be inclined to conclude that a regular course of dealing that results
in deliveries of over 100,000 units annually over a period of several years would constitute
"purposeful availment" even though the item delivered to the forum State was a standard
product marketed throughout the world.
1We have no occasion here to determine whether Congress could,
consistent with the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, authorize federal
court personal jurisdiction over alien defendants based on the aggregate of
national contacts, rather than on the contacts between the
defendant and the State in which the federal court sits. See Max Daetwyler Corp.
v. R. Meyer, 762 F.2d 290, 293-295 (CA3 1985); DeJames v. Magnificence
Carriers, Inc., 654 F.2d 280, 283 (CA3 1981); see also Born, Reflections on
Judicial Jurisdiction in International Cases, to be published in 17 Ga.J. Int'l &
Comp.L. 1 (1987); Lilly, Jurisdiction Over Domestic and Alien Defendants, 69
Va.L.Rev. 85, 127-145 (1983).
2Moreover, the Court found that "at least 18 percent of the tubes
sold in a
particular California motorcycle supply shop contained Asahi valve assemblies,"
App. to Pet. for Cert. C-11, n. 5, and that Asahi had an ongoing business
relationship with Cheng Shin involving average annual sales of hundreds of
thousands of valve assemblies, id., at C-2.