Wednesday, September 29, 2010

SCOTUS Grants Cert in Personal Jurisdiction Case

The SCOTUS granted cert yesterday in a case presenting this question:

"Whether a foreign corporation is subject to general personal jurisdiction, on causes of action not arising out of or related to any contacts between it and the forum state, merely because other entities distribute in the forum state products placed in the stream of commerce by the defendant."

The review will be of a North Carolina Supreme Court case that upheld the assertion of general jurisdiction based on the defendant's injecting their product into the stream of commerce without limiting its reach into North Carolina. Based on current understandings of general jurisdiction, it is hard to imagine the Supreme Court upholding this decision, which uses Justice Brennan's stream of commerce analysis from Asahi to uphold jurisdiction in a case having nothing to do with the forum state contacts. Look for a unanimous reversal of the North Carolina decision and a helpful clarification of the standards governing the assertion of general jurisdiction.

A bonus would be if the Court resolved the unsettled question of which approach from Asahi is the appropriate stream of commerce test; but I don't expect that to happen given that such an analysis is (or should be) wholly irrelevant to whether a court may assert general jurisdiction over a defendant, as opposed to specific jurisdiction.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Good Amount-In-Controversy Case in Virginia

Here is an excerpt from a posting by Paul Fletcher, the publisher of Virginia Lawyers Weekly:

A veterinary supplies company says that a vet named Rasnic owes it $74,139.24 and wants to sue to collect. Can the company, Merial Ltd., sue in federal court?

It’s a contract action and there’s no federal statute involved, so the plaintiff has to rely on diversity of citizenship under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a) to get into federal court. Company is based in Georgia, defendant is from Scott County. Check. The magic number for diversity jurisdiction, any one-L will tell you, is $75,000. So Merial is about 800 bucks short.

Wait, Merial also wants interest of about 15 grand and $2,500 in attorney’s fees, based on language in its invoices. However, the federal rule says $75K, “exclusive of interest and costs.” Rasnic asked that the claim be dismissed.

Merial still can go forward in federal court, according to U.S. Magistrate Judge Pamela Meade Sargent in Merial Ltd. v. Rasnic. The judge provides a handy primer on what to argue when you’re oh-so-close to that 75K figure.

The full post with details of the ruling can be found here. A PDF of the opinion can be found here.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Boyd & Hoffman Post Article on Litigating Toward Settlement on SSRN

Professors Christina L. Boyd (SUNY Pol. Sci.) and David A. Hoffman (Temple) have posted and article on SSRN entitled Litigating Toward Settlement. Here is the abstract:

What is the relationship between litigation and settlement? Previous research assumes that the factors influencing settlement are exogenous to the parties: once the complaint is filed, the die is cast. We hypothesize, by contrast, that the parties are active participants in the process by which they come to understand their cases and agree to private resolutions. This active and reflexive process of learning through litigation is likely to be just as important in determining when a case will settle as are the litigation characteristics – managerial judging, fee structure, case type, court congestion – that have dominated previous research.

Using detailed federal district court data to analyze how the filing and resolution of motions influences the timing of compromise, we find that the mere filing of a motion speeds case settlement. As theory predicts, motions which are granted are more immediately important to the settlement rate than motions denied, plaintiff victories are more important than defendant victories, motions about unclear areas of law are more important than motions about settled law, and motions later in cases are more important that motions earlier in cases. Our results open up a new area of research into the pro-social effects of litigation. We question the common assumption that litigators simply add cost and that settlement must be midwifed by active judging. Rather, the parties can force information from each other (and the court) by filing motions at appropriate moments in the case.

The article may be downloaded at

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Prof. Ides Posts Article on Shady Grove Debate between Stevens and Scalia

Prof. Allan Ides (Loyolla LA) has just posted a piece entitled The Standard for Measuring the Validity of a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure: The Shady Grove Debate between Justices Scalia and Stevens on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

In Shady Grove Orthopedic Associates, P.A. v. Allstate Insurance Company, Justices Scalia and Stevens offered alternative interpretations of §2072(b) of the Rules Enabling Act (“REA”). The focus of this essay is on that disagreement. The author argues that both the text of the REA and judicial precedent support the Stevens interpretation.

The article may be downloaded at