Courthouse Steps Oral Argument: Mallory v. Norfolk Southern

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On November 8, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Mallory v. Norfolk Southern Railway

Petitioner Robert Mallory, a Virginia resident, sued Virginia-based Norfolk Southern in sued in the Court of Common Pleas, the court of general jurisdiction in Pennsylvania, claiming that exposure to carcinogens while working for the company caused him to develop colon cancer.  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.

The Supreme Court is to decide if a state registration statute for out-of-state corporations that purports to confer general personal jurisdiction over the registrant violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Please join us for analysis of how oral argument went before the Court.


John Masslon, Senior Litigation Counsel, Washington Legal Foundation.


Associated Blog Post: Mallory v. Norfolk Southern: Oral Argument Preview


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