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Amdt14.S1.7.1.5 Reasonableness Test for Personal Jurisdiction

Fourteenth Amendment, Section 1:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Even if a nonresident defendant has minimum contacts with the forum, the Supreme Court has, at times, considered whether a state court’s exercise of personal jurisdiction over him would comport with due process by examining the reasonableness of the exercise of jurisdiction.1 In International Shoe and its subsequent opinions, the Court has established a multi-factor test that seeks to ensure that the maintenance of the suit does not offend “traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.” 2 The Court has subsequently clarified that in applying this test to evaluate the reasonableness of the exercise of jurisdiction in light of the defendant’s contacts with the forum and litigation, it will examine several factors, including: (1) “the burden on the defendant” ; (2) “the forum State’s interest in adjudicating the dispute” ; (3) “the plaintiff’s interest in obtaining convenient and effective relief” ; (4) “the interstate judicial system’s interest in obtaining the most efficient resolution of controversies” ; (5) and the “shared interest of the several States in furthering fundamental substantive social policies.” 3

Although the Supreme Court has addressed the reasonableness prong of the International Shoe test for personal jurisdiction only in Asahi and Daimler, it has provided some guidance as to when courts may deem it reasonable to subject a defendant to suit. Thus, the Justices have, for example, suggested that courts should remain cautious about exercising personal jurisdiction over corporations domiciled abroad, particularly when most of the conduct at issue occurred overseas.4 Courts may therefore evaluate the risks that subjecting a foreign corporation to suit in the United States for overseas conduct would have on international relations between the United States and its trading partners.5 In a case involving the exercise of personal jurisdiction over a foreign corporation, moreover, the policies of other nations are relevant and must be carefully considered.6

In addition, when considering the burden on the defendant of litigating the case in the forum state, the Court may consider it a heavy burden for a company domiciled abroad to travel from its foreign headquarters to have a dispute with another foreign corporation litigated in U.S. courts.7 This concern may stem in part from the notion that the interests of the plaintiff and forum are minimal when the claim is based on overseas transactions, the plaintiff is not a resident of the United States, and the allegedly tortious conduct could be deterred by subjecting companies over which the court has lawful judicial power to suit.8

Asahi Metal Indus. Co. v. Superior Court, 480 U.S. 102, 113 (1987) ( “We have previously explained that the determination of the reasonableness of the exercise of jurisdiction in each case will depend on an evaluation of several factors.” ). back
Int’l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). back
Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 477 (1985) (citation omitted). back
Asahi, 480 U.S. at 114. back
Daimler AG v. Bauman, 571 U.S. 117, 142 (2014) ( “Considerations of international rapport thus reinforce our determination that subjecting Daimler to the general jurisdiction of courts in California would not accord with the ‘fair play and substantial justice’ due process demands.” ). back
Asahi, 480 U.S. at 115–16. back
Id. at 114. back
Id. at 114–15 (noting that the lawsuit involved an indemnification claim brought by a Taiwanese tire manufacturer against a Japanese valve assembly manufacturer). back