SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
J. M c INTYRE MACHINERY, LTD., PETITIONER v. ROBERT NICASTRO, individually and as administrator of the ESTATE OF
on writ of certiorari to the supreme court of new jersey
[June 27, 2011]
Kennedy announced the judgment of the Court and delivered an opinion,
in which the Chief Justice, Justice Scalia, and Justice Thomas join.
Whether a person or entity is subject to the
jurisdiction of a state court despite not having been present in the
State either at the time of suit or at the time of the alleged injury,
and despite not having consented to the exercise of jurisdiction, is a
question that arises with great frequency in the routine course of
litigation. The rules and standards for determining when a State does
or does not have jurisdiction over an absent party have been unclear
because of decades-old questions left open in Asahi Metal Industry Co.
v. Superior Court of Cal., Solano Cty. , 480 U. S. 102 (1987) .
Here, the Supreme Court of New Jersey, relying
in part on Asahi , held that New Jersey’s courts can exercise
jurisdiction over a foreign manufacturer of a product so long as the
manufacturer “knows or reasonably should know that its products are
distributed through a nationwide distribution system that might lead to
those products being sold in any of the fifty states.” Nicastro v.
McIntyre Machinery America, Ltd. , 201 N. J. 48, 76, 77, 987 A. 2d 575,
591, 592 (2010). Applying that test, the court concluded that a British
manufacturer of scrap metal machines was subject to jurisdiction in New
Jersey, even though at no time had it advertised in, sent goods to, or
in any relevant sense targeted the State.
That decision cannot be sustained. Although
the New Jersey Supreme Court issued an extensive opinion with careful
attention to this Court’s cases and to its own precedent, the “stream
of commerce” metaphor carried the decision far afield. Due process
protects the defendant’s right not to be coerced except by lawful
judicial power. As a general rule, the exercise of judicial power is
not lawful unless the defendant “purposefully avails itself of the
privilege of conducting activities within the forum State, thus
invoking the benefits and protections of its laws.” Hanson v. Denckla ,
357 U. S. 235, 253 (1958) . There may be exceptions, say, for instance,
in cases involving an intentional tort. But the general rule is
applicable in this products-liability case, and the so-called
“stream-of-commerce” doctrine cannot displace it.
This case arises from a products-liability
suit filed in New Jersey state court. Robert Nicastro seriously injured
his hand while using a metal-shearing machine manufactured by J.
McIntyre Machinery, Ltd. (J. McIntyre). The accident occurred in New
Jersey, but the machine was manufactured in England, where J. McIntyre
is incorporated and operates. The question here is whether the New
Jersey courts have jurisdiction over J. McIntyre, notwithstanding the
fact that the company at no time either marketed goods in the State or
shipped them there. Nicastro was a plaintiff in the New Jersey trial
court and is the respondent here; J. McIntyre was a defendant and is
now the petitioner.
At oral argument in this Court, Nicastro’s
counsel stressed three primary facts in defense of New Jersey’s
as-sertion of jurisdiction over J. McIntyre. See Tr. of Oral Arg. 29–30.
First, an independent company agreed to sell
J. McIntyre’s machines in the United States. J. McIntyre itself did not
sell its machines to buyers in this country beyond the U. S.
distributor, and there is no allegation that the distributor was under
J. McIntyre’s control.
Second, J. McIntyre officials attended annual
conventions for the scrap recycling industry to advertise J.
Mc-Intyre’s machines alongside the distributor. The conventions took
place in various States, but never in New Jersey.
Third, no more than four machines (the record
suggests only one, see App. to Pet. for Cert. 130a), including the
machine that caused the injuries that are the basis for this suit,
ended up in New Jersey.
In addition to these facts emphasized by
petitioner, the New Jersey Supreme Court noted that J. McIntyre held
both United States and European patents on its recycling technology.
201 N. J., at 55, 987 A. 2d, at 579. It also noted that the U. S.
distributor “structured [its] advertising and sales efforts in
accordance with” J. McIntyre’s “direction and guidance whenever
possible,” and that “at least some of the machines were sold on
consignment to” the distributor. Id. , at 55, 56, 987 A. 2d, at 579
(internal quotation marks omitted).
In light of these facts, the New Jersey
Supreme Court concluded that New Jersey courts could exercise
jurisdiction over petitioner without contravention of the Due Process
Clause. Jurisdiction was proper, in that court’s view, because the
injury occurred in New Jersey; because petitioner knew or reasonably
should have known “that its products are distributed through a
nationwide distribution system that might lead to those products being
sold in any of the fifty states”; and because petitioner failed to
“take some reasonable step to prevent the distribution of its prod-ucts
in this State.” Id. , at 77, 987 A. 2d, at 592.
Both the New Jersey Supreme Court’s holding
and its account of what it called “[t]he stream-of-commerce doctrine of
jurisdiction,” id. , at 80, 987 A. 2d, at 594, were incorrect, however.
This Court’s Asahi decision may be responsible in part for that court’s
error regarding the stream of commerce, and this case presents an
opportunity to provide greater clarity.
The Due Process Clause protects an
individual’s right to be deprived of life, liberty, or property only by
the exercise of lawful power. Cf. Giaccio v. Pennsylvania , 382 U. S.
399, 403 (1966) (The Clause “protect[s] a person against having the
Government impose burdens upon him except in accordance with the valid
laws of the land”). This is no less true with respect to the power of a
sovereign to resolve disputes through judicial process than with
respect to the power of a sovereign to prescribe rules of conduct for
those within its sphere. See Steel Co. v. Citizens for Bet-ter
Environment , 523 U. S. 83, 94 (1998) (“Jurisdiction is power to
declare the law”). As a general rule, neither statute nor judicial
decree may bind strangers to the State. Cf. Burnham v. Superior Court
of Cal., County of Marin , 495 U. S. 604, 608–609 (1990) (opinion of
Scalia, J. ) (invoking “the phrase coram non judice, ‘before a person
not a judge’—meaning, in effect, that the proceeding in question was
not a judicial proceeding because lawful judicial authority was not
present, and could therefore not yield a judgment ”)
A court may subject a defendant to judgment
only when the defendant has sufficient contacts with the sovereign
“such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend ‘traditional
notions of fair play and substantial justice.’ ” International Shoe Co.
v. Washington , 326 U. S. 310, 316 (1945) (quoting Milliken v. Meyer ,
311 U. S. 457, 463 (1940) ). Freeform notions of fundamental fairness
divorced from traditional practice cannot transform a judgment rendered
in the absence of authority into law. As a general rule, the
sovereign’s exercise of power requires 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,” Hanson , 357 U. S., at 253, though in some cases, as with an
intentional tort, the defendant might well fall within the State’s
authority by reason of his attempt to obstruct its laws. In
products-liability cases like this one, it is the defendant’s
purposeful availment that makes jurisdiction consistent with
“traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.”
A person may submit to a State’s authority in
a number of ways. There is, of course, explicit consent. E.g. ,
In-surance Corp. of Ireland v. Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinee , 456
U. S. 694, 703 (1982) . Presence within a State at the time suit
commences through service of process is another example. See Burnham ,
supra . Citizenship or domicile—or, by analogy, incorporation or
principal place of business for corporations—also indicates general
submission to a State’s powers. Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S. A.
v. Brown , post , p. __. Each of these examples reveals circumstances,
or a course of conduct, from which it is proper to infer an intention
to benefit from and thus an intention to submit to the laws of the
forum State. Cf. Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz , 471 U. S. 462, 476
(1985) . These examples support exercise of the general jurisdiction of
the State’s courts and allow the State to resolve both matters that
originate within the State and those based on activities and events
elsewhere. Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S. A. v. Hall , 466 U.
S. 408 , and n. 9 (1984). By contrast, those who live or operate
primarily outside a State have a due process right not to be subjected
to judgment in its courts as a general matter.
There is also a more limited form of
submission to a State’s authority for disputes that “arise out of or
are connected with the activities within the state.” International
Shoe Co. , supra , at 319. Where a defendant “purposefully avails
itself of the privilege of conducting activities within the forum
State, thus invoking the benefits and protections of its laws,” Hanson
, supra , at 253, it submits to the judicial power of an otherwise
foreign sovereign to the extent that power is exercised in connection
with the defendant’s activities touching on the State. In other words,
submission through contact with and activity directed at a sovereign
may justify specific jurisdiction “in a suit arising out of or related
to the defendant’s contacts with the forum.” Helicopteros , supra , at
414, n. 8; see also Goodyear , post , at 2.
The imprecision arising from Asahi , for the
most part, results from its statement of the relation between
jurisdiction and the “stream of commerce.” The stream of commerce, like
other metaphors, has its deficiencies as well as its utility. It refers
to the movement of goods from manufacturers through distributors to
consumers, yet beyond that descriptive purpose its meaning is far from
exact. This Court has stated that a defendant’s placing goods into the
stream of commerce “with the expectation that they will be purchased by
consumers within the forum State” may indicate purposeful availment.
World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson , 444 U. S. 286, 298 (1980)
(finding that expectation lacking). But that statement does not amend
the general rule of personal jurisdiction. It merely observes that a
defendant may in an appropriate case be subject to jurisdiction without
entering the forum—itself an unexceptional proposition—as where
man-ufacturers or distributors “seek to serve” a given State’s market.
Id. , at 295. The principal inquiry in cases of this sort is whether
the defendant’s activities manifest an intention to submit to the power
of a sovereign. In other words, the defendant must “purposefully
avai[l] it-self of the privilege of conducting activities within the
forum State, thus invoking the benefits and protections of its laws.”
Hanson , supra , at 253; Insurance Corp. , supra , at 704–705
(“[A]ctions of the defendant may amount to a legal submission to the
jurisdiction of the court”). Sometimes a defendant does so by sending
its goods rather than its agents. The defendant’s transmission of goods
permits the exercise of jurisdiction only where the defendant can be
said to have targeted the forum; as a general rule, it is not enough
that the defendant might have predicted that its goods will reach the
In Asahi , an opinion by Justice Brennan for
four Justices outlined a different approach. It discarded the central
concept of sovereign authority in favor of considerations of fairness
and foreseeability. As that concurrence contended, “jurisdiction
premised on the placement of a product into the stream of commerce
[without more] is consistent with the Due Process Clause,” for “[a]s
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.” 480 U. S., at 117 (opinion concurring
in part and concurring in judgment). It was the premise of the
concurring opinion that the defendant’s ability to anticipate suit
renders the assertion of jurisdiction fair. In this way, the opinion
made foreseeability the touchstone of jurisdiction.
The standard set forth in Justice Brennan’s
concurrence was rejected in an opinion written by Justice O’Connor; but
the relevant part of that opinion, too, commanded the assent of only
four Justices, not a majority of the Court. That opinion stated: “The
‘substantial connection’ 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.
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.” Id. , at 112 (emphasis deleted; citations omitted).
Since Asahi was decided, the courts have
sought to reconcile the competing opinions. But Justice Brennan’s
concurrence, advocating a rule based on general notions of fairness
and foreseeability, is inconsistent with the premises of lawful
judicial power. This Court’s precedents make clear that it is the
defendant’s actions, not his expectations, that empower a State’s
courts to subject him to judgment.
The conclusion that jurisdiction is in the
first instance a question of authority rather than fairness explains,
for example, why the principal opinion in Burnham “conducted no
independent inquiry into the desirability or fairness” of the rule that
service of process within a State suffices to establish jurisdiction
over an otherwise foreign defendant. 495 U. S., at 621. As that opinion
explained, “[t]he view developed early that each State had the power to
hale before its courts any individual who could be found within its
borders.” Id. , at 610. Furthermore, were general fairness
considerations the touchstone of jurisdiction, a lack of purposeful
availment might be excused where carefully crafted judicial procedures
could otherwise protect the defendant’s interests, or where the
plaintiff would suffer substantial hardship if forced to litigate in a
foreign forum. That such considerations have not been deemed
controlling is instructive. See, e.g. , World-Wide Volkswagen , supra ,
Two principles are implicit in the foregoing.
First, personal jurisdiction requires a forum-by-forum, or
sovereign-by-sovereign, analysis. The question is whether a defendant
has followed a course of conduct directed at the society or economy
existing within the jurisdiction of a given sovereign, so that the
sovereign has the power to subject the defendant to judgment concerning
that conduct. Personal jurisdiction, of course, restricts “judicial
power not as a matter of sovereignty, but as a matter of individual
liberty,” for due process protects the individual’s right to be subject
only to lawful power. Insurance Corp. , 456 U. S., at 702. But whether
a judicial judgment is lawful depends on whether the sovereign has
authority to render it.
The second principle is a corollary of the
first. Because the United States is a distinct sovereign, a defendant
may in principle be subject to the jurisdiction of the courts of the
United States but not of any particular State. This is consistent with
the premises and unique genius of our Constitution. Ours is “a legal
system unprecedented in form and design, establishing two orders of
government, each with its own direct relationship, its own privity, its
own set of mutual rights and obligations to the people who sustain it
and are governed by it.” U. S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton , 514 U.
S. 779, 838 (1995) ( Kennedy , J., concurring). For jurisdiction, a
litigant may have the requisite relationship with the United States
Government but not with the government of any individual State. That
would be an exceptional case, however. If the defendant is a domestic
domiciliary, the courts of its home State are available and can
exercise general jurisdiction. And if another State were to assert
jurisdiction in an inappropriate case, it would upset the federal
balance, which posits that each State has a sovereignty that is not
subject to unlawful intrusion by other States. Furthermore, foreign
corporations will often target or concentrate on particular States,
subjecting them to specific jurisdiction in those forums.
It must be remembered, however, that although
this case and Asahi both involve foreign manufacturers, the undesirable
consequences of Justice Brennan’s approach are no less significant for
domestic producers. The owner of a small Florida farm might sell crops
to a large nearby distributor, for example, who might then distribute
them to grocers across the country. If foreseeability were the
controlling criterion, the farmer could be sued in Alaska or any number
of other States’ courts without ever leaving town. And the issue of
foreseeability may itself be contested so that significant expenses are
incurred just on the preliminary issue of jurisdiction. Jurisdictional
rules should avoid these costs whenever possible.
The conclusion that the authority to subject a
defendant to judgment depends on purposeful availment, consistent with
Justice O’Connor’s opinion in Asahi , does not by itself resolve many
difficult questions of jurisdiction that will arise in particular
cases. The defendant’s conduct and the economic realities of the market
the defendant seeks to serve will differ across cases, and judicial
exposition will, in common-law fashion, clarify the contours of that
In this case, petitioner directed marketing
and sales efforts at the United States. It may be that, assuming it
were otherwise empowered to legislate on the subject, the Congress
could authorize the exercise of jurisdiction in appropriate courts.
That circumstance is not presented in this case, however, and it is
neither necessary nor appropriate to address here any constitutional
concerns that might be attendant to that exercise of power. See Asahi ,
480 U. S., at 113, n. Nor is it necessary to determine what substantive
law might apply were Congress to authorize jurisdiction in a federal
court in New Jersey. See Hanson , 357 U. S., at 254 (“The issue is
personal jurisdiction, not choice of law”). A sovereign’s legislative
authority to regulate conduct may present considerations different from
those presented by its authority to subject a defendant to judgment in
its courts. Here the question concerns the authority of a New Jersey
state court to exercise ju-risdiction, so it is petitioner’s purposeful
contacts with New Jersey, not with the United States, that alone are
Respondent has not established that J.
McIntyre engaged in conduct purposefully directed at New Jersey. Recall
that respondent’s claim of jurisdiction centers on three facts: The
distributor agreed to sell J. McIntyre’s machines in the United States;
J. McIntyre officials attended trade shows in several States but not in
New Jersey; and up to four machines ended up in New Jersey. The British
manufacturer had no office in New Jersey; it neither paid taxes nor
owned property there; and it neither advertised in, nor sent any
employees to, the State. Indeed, after discovery the trial court found
that the “defendant does not have a single contact with New Jersey
short of the machine in question ending up in this state.” App. to Pet.
for Cert. 130a. These facts may reveal an intent to serve the U. S.
market, but they do not show that J. McIntyre purposefully availed
itself of the New Jersey market.
It is notable that the New Jersey Supreme
Court appears to agree, for it could “not find that J. McIntyre had a
presence or minimum contacts in this State—in any jurisprudential
sense—that would justify a New Jersey court to exercise jurisdiction in
this case.” 201 N. J., at 61, 987 A. 2d, at 582. The court nonetheless
held that petitioner could be sued in New Jersey based on a
“stream-of-commerce theory of jurisdiction.” Ibid. As discussed,
however, the stream-of-commerce metaphor cannot supersede either the
mandate of the Due Process Clause or the limits on judicial authority
that Clause ensures. The New Jersey Supreme Court also cited
“significant policy reasons” to justify its holding, including the
State’s “strong interest in protecting its citizens from defective
products.” Id. , at 75, 987 A. 2d, at 590. That interest is doubtless
strong, but the Constitution commands restraint before discarding
liberty in the name of expediency.
* * *
Due process protects petitioner’s right to be
subject only to lawful authority. At no time did petitioner engage in
any activities in New Jersey that reveal an intent to invoke or benefit
from the protection of its laws. New Jersey is without power to adjudge
the rights and liabilities of J. McIntyre, and its exercise of
jurisdiction would violate due process. The contrary judgment of the
New Jersey Supreme Court is
Justice Breyer , with whom Justice Alito joins, concurring in the judgment.
The Supreme Court of New Jersey adopted a
broad understanding of the scope of personal jurisdiction based on its
view that “[t]he increasingly fast-paced globalization of the world
economy has removed national borders as barriers to trade.” Nicastro v.
McIntyre Machinery America, Ltd., 201 N. J. 48, 52, 987 A. 2d 575, 577
(2010). I do not doubt that there have been many recent changes in
commerce and communication, many of which are not anticipated by our
precedents. But this case does not present any of those issues. So I
think it unwise to announce a rule of broad applicability without full
consideration of the modern-day consequences.
In my view, the outcome of this case is
determined by our precedents. Based on the facts found by the New
Jersey courts, respondent Robert Nicastro failed to meet his burden to
demonstrate that it was constitutionally proper to exercise
jurisdiction over petitioner J. McIntyre Machinery, Ltd. (British
Manufacturer), a British firm that manufactures scrap-metal machines in
Great Britain and sells them through an independent distributor in the
United States (American Distributor). On that basis, I agree with the
plurality that the contrary judgment of the Supreme Court of New Jersey
should be reversed.
In asserting jurisdiction over the British
Manufacturer, the Supreme Court of New Jersey relied most heavily on
three primary facts as providing constitutionally sufficient “contacts”
with New Jersey, thereby making it funda- mentally fair to hale the
British Manufacturer before its courts: (1) The American Distributor on
one occasion sold and shipped one machine to a New Jersey customer,
namely, Mr. Nicastro’s employer, Mr. Curcio; (2) the British
Manufacturer permitted, indeed wanted, its independent American
Distributor to sell its machines to anyone in America willing to buy
them; and (3) representatives of the British Manufacturer attended
trade shows in “such cities as Chicago, Las Vegas, New Orleans,
Orlando, San Diego, and San Francisco.” Id., at 54–55, 987 A. 2d, at
578–579. In my view, these facts do not provide contacts between the
British firm and the State of New Jersey constitutionally sufficient to
support New Jersey’s assertion of jurisdiction in this case.
None of our precedents finds that a single
isolated sale, even if accompanied by the kind of sales effort
indicated here, is sufficient. Rather, this Court’s previous holdings
suggest the contrary. The Court has held that a single sale to a
customer who takes an accident-causing product to a different State
(where the accident takes place) is not a sufficient basis for
asserting jurisdiction. See World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson ,
444 U. S. 286 (1980) . And the Court, in separate opinions, has
strongly suggested that a single sale of a product in a State does not
constitute an adequate basis for asserting jurisdiction over an
out-of-state defendant, even if that defendant places his goods in the
stream of commerce, fully aware (and hoping) that such a sale will take
place. See Asahi Metal Industry Co. v. Superior Court of Cal., Solano
Cty. , 480 U. S. 102, 111, 112 (1987) (opinion of O’Connor, J.)
(requiring “something more” than simply placing “a product into the
stream of commerce,” even if defendant is “awar[e]” that the stream
“may or will sweep the product into the forum State”); id., at 117
(Brennan, J., concurring in part and concurring in judgment)
(jurisdiction should lie where a sale in a State is part of “the
regular and anticipated flow” of commerce into the State, but not where
that sale is only an “edd[y],” i.e. , an isolated occurrence); id., at
122 (Stevens, J., concurring in part and concurring in judgment)
(indicating that “the volume, the value, and the hazardous character”
of a good may affect the jurisdictional inquiry and emphasizing Asahi’s
“regular course of dealing”).
Here, the relevant facts found by the New
Jersey Supreme Court show no “regular … flow” or “regular course” of
sales in New Jersey; and there is no “something more,” such as special
state-related design, advertising, advice, marketing, or anything else.
Mr. Nicastro, who here bears the burden of proving jurisdiction, has
shown no specific effort by the British Manufacturer to sell in New
Jersey. He has introduced no list of potential New Jersey customers who
might, for example, have regularly attended trade shows. And he has not
otherwise shown that the British Manufacturer “purposefully avail[ed]
itself of the privilege of conducting activities” within New Jersey, or
that it de-livered its goods in the stream of commerce “with the
expectation that they will be purchased” by New Jersey users.
World-Wide Volkswagen, supra , at 297–298 (internal quotation marks
There may well have been other facts that Mr.
Nicastro could have demonstrated in support of jurisdiction. And the
dissent considers some of those facts. See post , at 3 (opinion of
Ginsburg, J. ) (describing the size and scope of New Jersey’s
scrap-metal business). But the plaintiff bears the burden of
establishing jurisdiction, and here I would take the facts precisely as
the New Jersey Supreme Court stated them. Insurance Corp. of Ireland v.
Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinee , 456 U. S. 694, 709 (1982) ; Blakey
v. Continental Airlines, Inc. , 164 N. J. 38, 71, 751 A. 2d 538, 557
(2000); see 201 N. J., at 54–56, 987 A. 2d, at 578–579; App. to Pet.
for Cert. 128a–137a (trial court’s “reasoning and finding(s)”).
Accordingly, on the record present here,
resolving this case requires no more than adhering to our precedents.
I would not go further. Because the incident
at issue in this case does not implicate modern concerns, and because
the factual record leaves many open questions, this is an unsuitable
vehicle for making broad pronouncements that refashion basic
The plurality seems to state strict rules that
limit jurisdiction where a defendant does not “inten[d] to submit to
the power of a sovereign” and cannot “be said to have targeted the
forum.” Ante , at 7 . But what do those standards mean when a company
targets the world by selling products from its Web site? And does it
matter if, instead of shipping the products directly, a company
consigns the products through an intermediary (say, Amazon.com) who
then receives and fulfills the orders? And what if the company markets
its products through popup advertisements that it knows will be viewed
in a forum? Those issues have serious commercial consequences but are
totally absent in this case.
But though I do not agree with the plurality’s
seemingly strict no-jurisdiction rule, I am not persuaded by the
absolute approach adopted by the New Jersey Supreme Court and urged by
respondent and his amici . Under that view, a producer is subject to
jurisdiction for a products-liability action so long as it “knows or
reasonably should know that its products are distributed through a
nationwide distribution system that might lead to those products being
sold in any of the fifty states.” 201 N. J., at 76–77, 987 A. 2d, at
592 (emphasis added). In the context of this case, I cannot agree.
For one thing, to adopt this view would
abandon the heretofore accepted inquiry of whether, focusing upon the
relationship between “the defendant, the forum, and the litigation,” it
is fair, in light of the defendant’s contacts with that forum , to
subject the defendant to suit there. Shaffer v. Heitner , 433 U. S.
186, 204 (1977) (emphasis added). It would ordinarily rest jurisdiction
instead upon no more than the occurrence of a product-based accident in
the forum State. But this Court has rejected the notion that a
defendant’s amenability to suit “travel[s] with the chattel.”
World-Wide Volkswagen , 444 U. S., at 296.
For another, I cannot reconcile so automatic a
rule with the constitutional demand for “minimum contacts” and
“purposefu[l] avail[ment],” each of which rest upon a particular notion
of defendant-focused fairness. Id., at 291, 297 (internal quotation
marks omitted). A rule like the New Jersey Supreme Court’s would permit
every State to assert jurisdiction in a products-liability suit against
any domestic manufacturer who sells its products (made anywhere in the
United States) to a national distributor, no matter how large or small
the manufacturer, no matter how distant the forum, and no matter how
few the number of items that end up in the particular forum at issue.
What might appear fair in the case of a large manufacturer which
specifically seeks, or expects, an equal-sized distributor to sell its
product in a distant State might seem unfair in the case of a small
manufacturer (say, an Appalachian potter) who sells his product (cups
and saucers) exclusively to a large distributor, who resells a single
item (a coffee mug) to a buyer from a distant State (Hawaii). I know
too little about the range of these or in-between possibilities to
abandon in favor of the more absolute rule what has previously been
this Court’s less absolute approach.
Further, the fact that the defendant is a
foreign, rather than a domestic, manufacturer makes the basic fairness
of an absolute rule yet more uncertain. I am again less certain than is
the New Jersey Supreme Court that the nature of international commerce
has changed so significantly as to require a new approach to personal
It may be that a larger firm can readily
“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.” World-Wide Volkswagen ,
supra , at 297. But manufacturers come in many shapes and sizes. It may
be fundamentally unfair to require a small Egyptian shirt maker, a
Brazilian manufacturing cooperative, or a Kenyan coffee farmer, selling
its products through international distributors, to respond to
products-liability tort suits in virtually every State in the United
States, even those in respect to which the foreign firm has no
connection at all but the sale of a single (allegedly defective) good.
And a rule like the New Jersey Supreme Court suggests would require
every product manufacturer, large or small, selling to American
distributors to understand not only the tort law of every State, but
also the wide variance in the way courts within different States apply
that law. See, e.g., Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics
Bulletin, Tort Trials and Verdicts in Large Counties, 2001, p. 11
(reporting percentage of plaintiff winners in tort trials among 46
populous counties, ranging from 17.9% (Worcester, Mass.) to 69.1%
At a minimum, I would not work such a change
to the law in the way either the plurality or the New Jersey Supreme
Court suggests without a better understanding of the relevant
contemporary commercial circumstances. Insofar as such considerations
are relevant to any change in present law, they might be presented in a
case (unlike the present one) in which the Solicitor General
participates. Cf. Tr. of Oral Arg. in Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations,
S. A. v. Brown , O. T. 2010, No. 10–76, pp. 20–22 (Government declining
invitation at oral argument to give its views with respect to issues in
This case presents no such occasion, and so I
again reiterate that I would adhere strictly to our precedents and the
limited facts found by the New Jersey Supreme Court. And on those
grounds, I do not think we can find jurisdiction in this case.
Accordingly, though I agree with the plurality as to the outcome of
this case, I concur only in the judgment of that opinion and not its
Justice Ginsburg, with whom Justice Sotomayor and Justice Kagan join, dissenting.
A foreign industrialist seeks to develop a
market in the United States for machines it manufactures. It hopes to
derive substantial revenue from sales it makes to United States
purchasers. Where in the United States buyers reside does not matter to
this manufacturer. Its goal is simply to sell as much as it can,
wherever it can. It excludes no region or State from the market it
wishes to reach. But, all things considered, it prefers to avoid
products liability litigation in the United States. To that end, it
engages a U. S. distributor to ship its machines stateside. Has it
succeeded in escaping personal jurisdiction in a State where one of its
products is sold and causes injury or even death to a local user?
Under this Court’s pathmarking precedent in
International Shoe Co. v. Washington , 326 U. S. 310 (1945) , and
subsequent decisions, one would expect the answer to be unequivocally,
“No.” But instead, six Justices of this Court, in divergent opinions,
tell us that the manufacturer has avoided the jurisdiction of our state
courts, except perhaps in States where its products are sold in
sizeable quantities. Inconceivable as it may have seemed yesterday, the
splintered majority today “turn[s] the clock back to the days before
modern long-arm statutes when a manufacturer, to avoid being haled into
court where a user is injured, need only Pilate-like wash its hands of
a product by having independent distributors market it.” Weintraub, A
Map Out of the Personal Jurisdiction Labyrinth, 28 U. C. Davis L. Rev.
531, 555 (1995).
On October 11, 2001, a three-ton metal
shearing machine severed four fingers on Robert Nicastro’s right hand.
Nicastro v. McIntyre Machinery America, Ltd. , 201 N. J. 48, 53, 987 A.
2d 575, 577 (2010); see App. 6a–8a (Complaint). Alleging that the
machine was a dangerous product defectively made, Nicastro sought
compensation from the machine’s manufacturer, J. McIntyre Machinery
Ltd. (McIntyre UK). Established in 1872 as a United Kingdom
corporation, and headquartered in Nottingham, England, McIntyre UK
“designs, develops and manufactures a complete range of equipment for
metal recycling.” Id. , at 22a, 33a. The company’s product line, as
advertised on McIntyre UK’s Web site, includes “metal shears, balers,
cable and can recycling equipment, furnaces, casting equipment and …
the world’s best aluminium dross processing and cooling system.” Id
., at 31a. McIntyre UK holds both United States and European patents on
its technology. 201 N. J., at 55, 987 A. 2d, at 579; App. 36a.
The machine that injured Nicastro, a “McIntyre
Model 640 Shear,” sold in the United States for $24,900 in 1995, id. ,
at 43a, and features a “massive cutting capacity,” id. , at 44a.
According to McIntyre UK’s product brochure, the machine is “use[d]
throughout the [w]orld.” Ibid . McIntyre UK represented in the brochure
that, by “incorporat[ing] off-the-shelf hydraulic parts from suppliers
with international sales outlets,” the 640 Shear’s design guarantees
serviceability “wherever [its customers] may be based.” Ibid. The
instruction manual advises “owner[s] and operators of a 640 Shear [to]
make themselves aware of [applicable health and safety regulations],”
including “the American National Standards Institute Regulations (USA)
for the use of Scrap Metal Processing Equipment.” Id., at 46a.
Nicastro operated the 640 Shear in the course
of his employment at Curcio Scrap Metal (CSM) in Saddle Brook, New
Jersey. Id. , at 7a, 43a. “New Jersey has long been a hotbed of
scrap-metal businesses … .” See Drake, The Scrap-Heap Rollup Hits New
Jersey, Business News New Jersey, June 1, 1998, p. 1. In 2008, New
Jersey recycling facilities processed 2,013,730 tons of scrap iron,
steel, aluminum, and other metals—more than any other State—outpacing
Kentucky, its nearest competitor, by nearly 30 percent. Von Haaren,
Themelis, & Goldstein, The State of Garbage in America, BioCycle,
Oct. 2010, p. 19.
CSM’s owner, Frank Curcio, “first heard of
[McIntyre UK’s] machine while attending an Institute of Scrap Metal
Industries [(ISRI)] convention in Las Vegas in 1994 or 1995, where
[McIntyre UK] was an exhibitor.” App. 78a. ISRI “presents the world’s
largest scrap recycling industry trade show each year.” Id ., at 47a.
The event attracts “owners [and] managers of scrap processing
companies” and others “interested in seeing—and purchasing—new
equipment.” Id. , at 48a–49a. According to ISRI, more than 3,000
potential buyers of scrap processing and recycling equipment attend its
annual conventions, “primarily because th[e] exposition provides them
with the most comprehensive industry-related shopping experience
concentrated in a single, convenient location.” Id. , at 47a.
Exhibitors who are ISRI members pay $3,000 for 10’ x 10’ booth space.
Id. , at 48a–49a.
McIntyre UK representatives attended every
ISRI convention from 1990 through 2005. Id. , at 114a–115a. These
annual expositions were held in diverse venues across the United
States; in addition to Las Vegas, conventions were held 1990–2005 in
New Orleans, Orlando, San Antonio, and San Francisco. Ibid. McIntyre
UK’s president, Michael Pownall, regularly attended ISRI con-ventions.
Ibid. He attended ISRI’s Las Vegas conven- tion the year CSM’s owner
first learned of, and saw, the 640 Shear. Id. , at 78a–79a, 115a.
McIntyre UK exhibited its products at ISRI trade shows, the company
acknowledged, hoping to reach “anyone interested in the machine from
anywhere in the United States.” Id., at 161a.
Although McIntyre UK’s U. S. sales figures are
not in the record, it appears that for several years in the 1990’s,
earnings from sales of McIntyre UK products in the United States “ha[d]
been good” in comparison to “the rest of the world.” Id. , at 136a
(Letter from Sally Johnson, McIntyre UK’s Managing Director, to Gary
and Mary Gaither, officers of McIntyre UK’s exclusive distributor in
the United States (Jan. 13, 1999)). In response to interrogatories,
McIntyre UK stated that its commissioning engineer had installed the
company’s equipment in several States—Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky,
Virginia, and Washington. Id. , at 119a.
From at least 1995 until 2001, McIntyre UK
retained an Ohio-based company, McIntyre Machinery America, Ltd.
(McIntyre America), “as its exclusive distributor for the en-tire
United States.” Nicastro v. McIntyre Machinery America,
Ltd. , 399 N. J. Super. 539, 558, 945 A. 2d 92, 104 (App. 2008). Though
similarly named, the two companies were separate and independent
entities with “no commonality of ownership or management.” Id., at 545,
945 A. 2d, at 95. In invoices and other written communications,
McIntyre America described itself as McIntyre UK’s national
distributor, “America’s Link” to “Quality Metal Processing Equipment”
from England. App. 43a, 78a.
In a November 23, 1999 letter to McIntyre
America, McIntyre UK’s president spoke plainly about the manufacturer’s
objective in authorizing the exclusive distributorship: “All we wish to
do is sell our products in the [United] States—and get paid!” Id. , at
134a. Notably, McIntyre America was concerned about U. S. litigation
involving McIntyre UK products, in which the distributor had been named
as a defendant. McIntyre UK counseled McIntyre America to respond
personally to the litigation, but reassured its distributor that “the
product was built and designed by McIntyre Machinery in the UK and the
buck stops here—if there’s something wrong with the machine.” Id. , at
129a–130a. Answering jurisdictional interrogatories, McIntyre UK stated
that it had been named as a defendant in lawsuits in Illinois,
Kentucky, Massachusetts, and West Virginia. Id. , at 98a, 108a. And in
correspondence with McIntyre America, McIntyre UK noted that the
manufacturer had products liability insurance coverage. Id. , at 129a.
Over the years, McIntyre America distributed
several McIntyre UK products to U. S. customers, including, in addition
to the 640 Shear, McIntyre UK’s “Niagara” and “Tardis” systems, wire
strippers, and can machines. Id. , at 123a–128a. In promoting McIntyre
UK’s products at conventions and demonstration sites and in trade
journal advertisements, McIntyre America looked to McIntyre UK for
direction and guidance. Ibid. To achieve McIntyre UK’s objective, i.e.
, “to sell [its] machines to customers throughout the United States,”
399 N. J. Super., at 548, 945 A. 2d, at 97, “the two companies [were
acting] closely in concert with each other,” ibid. McIntyre UK never
instructed its distributor to avoid certain States or regions of the
country; rather, as just noted, the manufacturer engaged McIntyre
America to attract customers “from anywhere in the United States.” App.
In sum, McIntyre UK’s regular attendance and
exhibitions at ISRI conventions was surely a purposeful step to reach
customers for its products “anywhere in the United States.” At least as
purposeful was McIntyre UK’s engagement of McIntyre America as the
conduit for sales of McIntyre UK’s machines to buyers “throughout the
United States.” Given McIntyre UK’s endeavors to reach and profit from
the United States market as a whole, Nicastro’s suit, I would hold, has
been brought in a forum entirely appropriate for the adjudication of
his claim. He alleges that McIntyre UK’s shear machine was defectively
designed or manufactured and, as a result, caused injury to him at his
workplace. The machine arrived in Nicastro’s New Jersey workplace not
randomly or fortuitously, but as a result of the U. S. connections and
distribution system that McIntyre UK deliberately arranged. On what
sensible view of the allocation of adjudicatory authority could the
place of Nicastro’s injury within the United States be deemed off
limits for his products liability claim against a foreign manufacturer
who targeted the United States (including all the States that
constitute the Nation) as the territory it sought to develop?
A few points on which there should be no
genuine debate bear statement at the outset. First, all agree,
Mc-Intyre UK surely is not subject to general (all-purpose)
jurisdiction in New Jersey courts, for that foreign-country corporation
is hardly “at home” in New Jersey. See Goodyear Dunlop Tires
Operations, S. A. v. Brown , post , at 2–3, 9–13. The question, rather,
is one of specific jurisdiction, which turns on an “affiliatio[n]
between the forum and the underlying controversy.” Goodyear Dunlop,
post, at 2 (quoting von Mehren & Trautman, Jurisdiction to
Adjudicate: A Suggested Analysis, 79 Harv. L. Rev. 1121, 1136 (1966)
(hereinafter von Mehren & Trautman); internal quotation marks
omitted); see also Goodyear Dunlop, post, at 7–8.
Second, no issue of the fair and reasonable
allocation of adjudicatory authority among States of the United States
is present in this case. New Jersey’s exercise of personal jurisdiction
over a foreign manufacturer whose dangerous product caused a workplace
injury in New Jersey does not tread on the domain, or diminish the
sovereignty, of any sister State. Indeed, among States of the United
States, the State in which the injury occurred would seem most suitable
for litigation of a products liability tort claim. See World-Wide
Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson , 444 U. S. 286, 297 (1980) (if a
manufacturer or distributor endeavors to develop a market for a product
in several States, it is reasonable “to subject it to suit in one of
those States if its allegedly defective [product] has there been the
source of injury”); 28 U. S. C. §1391(a)–(b) (in federal-court suits,
whether resting on diversity or federal-question jurisdiction, venue is
proper in the judicial district “in which a substantial part of the
events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred”).
Third, the constitutional limits on a state
court’s adjudicatory authority derive from considerations of due
process, not state sovereignty. As the Court clarified in Insurance
Corp. of Ireland v. Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinee , 456 U. S. 694
“The restriction on state sovereign power described in World-Wide
Volkswagen Corp. … must be seen as ultimately a function of the
individual liberty interest preserved by the Due Process Clause. That
Clause is the only source of the personal jurisdiction requirement and
the Clause itself makes no mention of federalism concerns. Furthermore,
if the federalism concept operated as an independent restriction on the
sovereign power of the court, it would not be possible to waive the
personal jurisdiction requirement: Individual actions cannot change the
powers of sovereignty, although the individual can subject himself to
powers from which he may otherwise be protected.” Id. , at 703, n. 10.
See also Shaffer v. Heitner , 433 U. S. 186 , and n. 20 (1977)
(recognizing that “the mutually exclusive sovereignty of the States [is
not] the central concern of the inquiry into personal jurisdiction”).
But see ante , at 7 (plurality opinion) (asserting that “sovereign
authority,” not “fairness,” is the “central concept” in determining
Finally, in International Shoe itself, and
decisions thereafter, the Court has made plain that legal fictions,
notably “presence” and “implied consent,” should be discarded, for they
conceal the actual bases on which jurisdiction rests. See 326 U. S., at
316, 318; Hutchinson v. Chase & Gilbert , 45 F. 2d 139, 141 (CA2
1930) (L. Hand, J.) (“nothing is gained by [resort to words that]
concea[l] what we do”). “[T]he relationship among the defendant, the
forum, and the litigation” determines whether due process permits the
exercise of personal jurisdiction over a defendant,
Shaffer , 433 U. S., at 204, and “fictions of implied
consent” or “corporate presence” do not advance the proper inquiry, id.
, at 202. See also Burnham v. Superior Court of Cal., County of Marin ,
495 U. S. 604, 618 (1990) (plurality opinion) ( International Shoe
“cast … aside” fictions of “consent” and “presence”).
Whatever the state of academic debate over the
role of consent in modern jurisdictional doctrines, the plurality’s
notion that consent is the animating concept draws no support from
controlling decisions of this Court. Quite the contrary, the Court has
explained, a forum can exercise jurisdiction when its contacts with the
controversy are sufficient; invocation of a fictitious consent, the
Court has repeatedly said, is unnecessary and unhelpful. See, e.g. ,
Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz , 471 U. S. 462, 472 (1985) (Due Process
Clause permits “forum … to assert specific jurisdiction over an
out-of-state defendant who has not consented to suit there”); McGee v.
International Life Ins.Co. , 355 U. S. 220, 222 (1957) (“[T]his Court
[has] abandoned ‘consent,’ ‘doing business,’ and ‘presence’ as the
standard for measuring the extent of state judicial power over
This case is illustrative of marketing
arrangements for sales in the United States common in today’s
commercial world. A foreign-country manufacturer engages a U. S.
company to promote and distribute the manufacturer’s products, not in
any particular State, but anywhere and everywhere in the United States
the distributor can attract purchasers. The product proves defective
and injures a user in the State where the user lives or works. Often,
as here, the manufacturer will have liability insurance covering
personal injuries caused by its products. See Cupp, Redesigning
Successor Liability, 1999 U. Ill. L. Rev. 845, 870–871 (noting the
ready availability of products liability insurance for manufacturers
and citing a study showing, “between 1986 and 1996, [such] insurance
cost manufacturers, on average, only sixteen cents for each $100 of
product sales”); App. 129–130.
When industrial accidents happen, a long-arm
statute in the State where the injury occurs generally permits
assertion of jurisdiction, upon giving proper notice, over the foreign
manufacturer. For example, the State’s statute might provide, as does
New York’s long-arm statute, for the “exercise [of] personal
jurisdiction over any non-domiciliary … who …
“commits a tortious act without the state causing injury to person or
property within the state, … if he … expects or should reasonably
expect the act to have consequences in the state and derives
substantial revenue from interstate or international commerce.” N. Y.
Civ. Prac. Law Ann. §302(a)(3)(ii) (West 2008).
Or, the State might simply provide, as New Jersey does, for the
exercise of jurisdiction “consistent with due process of law.” N. J.
Ct. Rule 4:4–4(b)(1) (2011).
The modern approach to jurisdiction over
corporations and other legal entities, ushered in by International Shoe
, gave prime place to reason and fairness. Is it not fair and
reasonable, given the mode of trading of which this case is an example,
to require the international seller to defend at the place its products
cause injury? Do not litigational convenience and choice-of-law
considerations point in that direction? On what measure of
reason and fairness can it be considered undue to require McIntyre UK
to defend in New Jersey as an incident of its efforts to develop a
market for its industrial machines anywhere and everywhere in the
United States? Is not the burden on McIntyre UK to defend in
New Jersey fair, i.e. , a reasonable cost of transacting business
internationally, in comparison to the burden on Nicastro to go to
Nottingham, England to gain recompense for an injury he sustained using
McIntyre’s product at his workplace in Saddle Brook, New Jersey?
McIntyre UK dealt with the United States as a
single market. Like most foreign manufacturers, it was concerned not
with the prospect of suit in State X as opposed to State Y, but rather
with its subjection to suit anywhere in the United States. See Hay,
Judicial Jurisdiction Over Foreign-Country Corporate
Defendants—Comments on Recent Case Law, 63 Ore. L. Rev. 431, 433 (1984)
(hereinafter Hay). As a McIntyre UK officer wrote in an e-mail to
McIntyre America: “American law—who needs it?!” App. 129a–130a (e-mail
dated April 26, 1999 from Sally Johnson to Mary Gaither). If McIntyre
UK is answerable in the United States at all, is it not “perfectly
appropriate to permit the exercise of that jurisdiction … at the place
of injury”? See Hay 435; Degnan & Kane, The Exercise of
Jurisdiction Over and Enforcement of Judgments Against Alien
Defendants, 39 Hastings L. J. 799, 813–815 (1988) (noting that “[i]n
the international order,” the State that counts is the United States,
not its component States, and that the fair place of suit within the
United States is essentially a question of venue).
In sum, McIntyre UK, by engaging McIntyre
America to promote and sell its machines in the United States,
“purposefully availed itself ” of the United States market nationwide,
not a market in a single State or a discrete collection of States.
McIntyre UK thereby availed itself of the market of all States in which
its products were sold by its exclusive distributor. “Th[e] ‘purposeful
availment’ requirement,” this Court has explained, simply “ensures that
a defendant will not be haled into a jurisdiction solely as a result of
‘random,’ ‘fortuitous,’ or ‘attenuated’ contacts.” Burger King , 471 U.
S., at 475. Adjudicatory authority is appropriately exercised where
“actions by the defendant himself ” give rise to the affiliation with
the forum. Ibid. How could McIntyre UK not have intended, by its
actions targeting a national market, to sell products in the fourth
largest destination for imports among all States of the United States
and the largest scrap metal market? See supra , at 3, 10, n. 6. But see
ante , at 11 (plurality opinion) (manufacturer’s purposeful efforts to
sell its products nationwide are “not … relevant” to the personal
Courts, both state and federal, confronting facts similar to those
here, have rightly rejected the conclusion that a manufacturer selling
its products across the USA may evade jurisdiction in any and all
States, including the State where its defective product is distributed
and causes injury. They have held, instead, that it would undermine
principles of fundamental fairness to insulate the foreign manufacturer
from accountability in court at the place within the United States
where the manufacturer’s products caused injury. See, e.g. , Tobin v.
Astra Pharmaceutical Prods., Inc. , 993 F. 2d 528, 544 (CA6 1993); A.
Uberti & C. v. Leonardo , 181 Ariz. 565, 573, 892 P. 2d 1354, 1362
While this Court has not considered in any
prior case the now-prevalent pattern presented here—a foreign-country
manufacturer enlisting a U. S. distributor to develop a market in the
United States for the manufacturer’s products—none of the Court’s
decisions tug against the judgment made by the New Jersey Supreme
Court. McIntyre contends otherwise, citing World-Wide Volkswagen , and
Asahi Metal Industry Co. v. Superior Court of Cal., Solano Cty. , 480
U. S. 102 (1987) .
World-Wide Volkswagen concerned a New York car
dealership that sold solely in the New York market, and a New York
distributor who supplied retailers in three States only: New York,
Connecticut, and New Jersey. 444 U. S., at 289. New York residents had
purchased an Audi from the New York dealer and were driving the new
vehicle through Oklahoma en route to Arizona. On the road in Oklahoma,
another car struck the Audi in the rear, causing a fire which severely
burned the Audi’s occupants. Id. , at 288. Rejecting the Oklahoma
courts’ assertion of jurisdiction over the New York dealer and
distributor, this Court observed that the defendants had done nothing
to serve the market for cars in Oklahoma. Id. , at 295–298.
Jurisdiction, the Court held, could not be based on the customer’s
unilateral act of driving the vehicle to Oklahoma. Id. , at 298; see
Asahi , 480 U. S., at 109 (opinion of O’Connor, J.) ( World-Wide
Volkswagen “rejected the as- sertion 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
Notably, the foreign manufacturer of the Audi
in World-Wide Volkswagen did not object to the jurisdiction of the
Oklahoma courts and the U. S. importer abandoned its initially stated
objection. 444 U. S., at 288, and n. 3. And most relevant here, the
Court’s opinion indicates that an objection to jurisdiction by the
manufacturer or national distributor would have been unavailing. To
reiterate, the Court said in World-Wide Volkswagen that, when a
manufacturer or distributor aims to sell its product to customers in
several States, it is reasonable “to subject it to suit in [any] one of
those States if its allegedly defective [product] has there been the
source of injury.” Id. , at 297.
Asahi arose out of a motorcycle accident in
California. Plaintiff, a California resident injured in the accident,
sued the Taiwanese manufacturer of the motorcycle’s tire tubes,
claiming that defects in its product caused the accident. The tube
manufacturer cross-claimed against Asahi, the Japanese maker of the
valve assembly, and Asahi contested the California courts’
jurisdiction. By the time the case reached this Court, the injured
plaintiff had settled his case and only the indemnity claim by the
Taiwanese company against the Japanese valve-assembly manufacturer
The decision was not a close call. The Court
had before it a foreign plaintiff, the Taiwanese manufacturer, and a
foreign defendant, the Japanese valve-assembly maker, and the
indemnification dispute concerned a transaction between those parties
that occurred abroad. All agreed on the bottom line: The Japanese
valve-assembly manufacturer was not reasonably brought into the
California courts to litigate a dispute with another foreign party over
a transaction that took place outside the United States.
Given the confines of the controversy, the
dueling opinions of Justice Brennan and Justice O’Connor were hardly
necessary. How the Court would have “estimate[d] … the inconveniences,”
see International Shoe , 326 U. S., at 317 (internal quotation marks
omitted), had the injured Californian originally sued Asahi is a
debatable question. Would this Court have given the same weight to the
burdens on the foreign defendant had those been counterbalanced by the
burdens litigating in Japan imposed on the local California plaintiff?
Cf. Calder v. Jones , 465 U. S. 783, 788 (1984) (a plaintiff’s contacts
with the forum “may be so manifold as to permit jurisdiction when it
would not exist in their absence”).
In any event, Asahi, unlike McIntyre UK, did
not itself seek out customers in the United States, it engaged no
distributor to promote its wares here, it appeared at no tradeshows in
the United States, and, of course, it had no Web site advertising its
products to the world. Moreover, Asahi was a component-part
manufacturer with “little control over the final destination of its
products once they were delivered into the stream of commerce.” A.
Uberti , 181 Ariz., at 572, 892 P. 2d, at 1361. It was important to the
Court in Asahi that “those who use Asahi components in their final
products, and sell those products in California, [would be] subject to
the application of California tort law.” 480 U. S., at 115 (majority
opinion). To hold that Asahi controls this case would, to put it
bluntly, be dead wrong.
The Court’s judgment also puts United States
plaintiffs at a disadvantage in comparison to similarly situated
complainants elsewhere in the world. Of particular note, within the
European Union, in which the United Kingdom is a participant, the
jurisdiction New Jersey would have exercised is not at all exceptional.
The European Regulation on Jurisdiction and the Recognition and
Enforcement of Judgments provides for the exercise of specific
jurisdiction “in matters relating to tort … in the courts for the place
where the harmful event occurred.” Council Reg. 44/2001, Art. 5, 2001
O. J. (L. 12) 4. The European Court of Justice has interpreted this
prescription to authorize jurisdiction either where the harmful act
occurred or at the place of injury. See Handelskwekerij G. J. Bier B.
V. v. Mines de Potasse d’Alsace S. A. , 1976 E. C. R. 1735, 1748–1749.
The commentators who gave names to what we now
call “general jurisdiction” and “specific jurisdiction” anticipated
that when the latter achieves its full growth, considerations of
litigational convenience and the respective situations of the parties
would determine when it is appropriate to subject a defendant to trial
in the plaintiff’s community. See von Mehren & Trautman 1166–1179.
Litigational considerations include “the convenience of witnesses and
the ease of ascertaining the governing law.” Id. , at 1168–1169. As to
the parties, courts would differently appraise two situations: (1)
cases involving a substantially local plaintiff, like Nicastro, injured
by the activity of a defendant engaged in interstate or international
trade; and (2) cases in which the defendant is a natural or legal
person whose economic activities and legal involvements are largely
home-based, i.e. , entities without designs to gain substantial revenue
from sales in distant markets. See id. , at 1167–1169 . As the attached appendix of illustrative cases indicates,
courts presented with von Mehren and Trautman’s first scenario—a local
plaintiff injured by the activity of a manufacturer seeking to exploit
a multistate or global market—have repeatedly confirmed that
jurisdiction is appropriately exercised by courts of the place where
the product was sold and caused injury.
* * *
For the reasons stated, I would hold McIntyre
UK answerable in New Jersey for the harm Nicastro suffered at his
workplace in that State using McIntyre UK’s shearing machine. While I
dissent from the Court’s judgment, I take heart that the plurality
opinion does not speak for the Court, for that opinion would take a
giant step away from the “notions of fair play and substantial justice”
underlying International Shoe . 326 U. S., at 316 (internal quotation