Facts of the Case

Provided by Oyez

Robert Mallory sued Norfolk Southern Railway Co. in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas for claims arising under the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA). According to his complaint, Mallory was exposed to harmful carcinogens while employed by Defendant in Ohio and Virginia between 1988 through 2005. He did not allege that he suffered any harmful occupational exposures in Pennsylvania but sued in Pennsylvania court on a theory that the court could exercise jurisdiction over the Virginia company because it had registered to do business in Pennsylvania.


Under Pennsylvania law, a foreign corporation “may not do business in this Commonwealth until it registers” with the Department of State of the Commonwealth. State law further establishes that registration constitutes a sufficient basis for Pennsylvania courts to exercise general personal jurisdiction over that foreign corporation. Norfolk Southern Railway objected to the exercise of personal jurisdiction, arguing that the exercise violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The trial court agreed and held Pennsylvania’s statutory scheme unconstitutional. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court affirmed.


  1. Does a state registration statute for out-of-state corporations that purports to confer general personal jurisdiction over the registrant violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?


  1. A Pennsylvania law requiring out-of-state companies that register to do business in Pennsylvania to agree to appear in Pennsylvania courts on “any cause of action” against them comports with the Due Process Clause.