In 2014, the Supreme Court unanimously held in Daimler AG v Bauman that, as a general matter, companies could only be sued in the state in which they are headquartered and incorporated or the plaintiff is injured. Nonetheless, the Supreme Court in BNSF Railways Co. v. Tyrell was asked to define, once again, when a company has a substantial and continuous enough presence in a state to provide “general jurisdiction.” In BNSF, plaintiffs brought suit in Montana state court although neither were injured in that state and BNSF is headquartered in Texas. On May 30, the Supreme Court, in an 8-1 decision issued by Justice Ginsburg reaffirmed its holding in Daimler. In BNSF, it found that -- barring an exceptional case -- companies may only be sued where they are headquartered/incorporated or the plaintiff is injured. Karen Harned discussed the BNSF opinion and its impact on business and the plaintiff’s bar.
- Karen Harned, Executive Director, National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Legal Center