Georgia Supreme Court Finds Foreign Entity Authorized To Do Business In-State Subject to General Personal Jurisdiction | Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP


Georgia’s Supreme Court recently ruled on a 1992 case asserting that a foreign company licensed to do business in the state submits to general personal jurisdiction, although it noted that the “trajectory” of there is a clear trend in the United States Supreme Court’s jurisprudence on general jurisdiction to restrict the extent to which courts can subject foreign companies to general jurisdiction.

In Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. v. Mccall, the Florida-based plaintiff alleged that he sustained injuries while traveling to Florida when his car’s rear tire ruptured. The plaintiff sued the tire manufacturer, a Delaware company headquartered in Ohio, in Georgia state court. The question before the tribunal was whether its earlier decision in Allstate Ins. Cie c. Klein, 422 SE2d 863 (1992), who held that the license to operate in Georgia confers general jurisdiction over foreign companies, was still a good law. Despite the recent series of U.S. Supreme Court cases that have restricted general jurisdiction over foreign companies, see, for example, Daimler AG v Bauman, 571 US 117 (2014), the court based its analysis on a 1917 United States Supreme Court case which it said established and permitted “consent by registration”, Pennsylvania Fire Ins. Co. v. Gold Issue Mining & Milling Co., 243 US 93, and noted that the United States Supreme Court never expressly set aside Pennsylvania Fire. Thus, in the opinion of the Supreme Court of Georgia, consent by registration is alive and well in Peach State.

Georgia is not alone in grappling with this contentious issue. Bruce Merenstein of Schnader recently argued a similar case in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on behalf of a foreign railroad defendant. See Mallory v. Norfolk Southern Railway, n ° 3 PAE 20211. There, the foreign company argued that Pennsylvania’s registration law was not voluntary and that a company should not be forced to make the untenable decision between doing business in a state and thus submit to the general jurisdiction, or not doing business in the state. the Mallory court has not yet rendered its decision.

These cases illustrate that consent to general jurisdiction under registration to do business is currently a state-by-state matter and is evolving rapidly. For example, the article by Bob Williams in this edition deals with a recent case in New York City regarding this issue. It will likely require guidance from the United States Supreme Court to provide a measure of national certainty for litigants, and this issue should be the primary concern of entities when deciding to register to operate in the United States. a given state. Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. v. Mccall, 863 SE2d 81 (Ga. 2021).

1 Since this article was first published, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has unanimously ruled in Mallory that the Pennsylvania law allowing personal jurisdiction over companies registered to do business in Pennsylvania was unconstitutional. Simply registering to do business in Pennsylvania no longer grants general jurisdiction over out-of-state defendants and brings Pennsylvania closer to recent U.S. Supreme Court cases that have strengthened states’ ability to exercise their general jurisdiction. The court noted: “Our statutory regime of making the privilege of doing business in the Commonwealth conditional on the submission of the foreign company to the general jurisdiction of the courts of Pennsylvania deprives foreign companies of the due process guarantees guaranteed in Good year and Daimler. “

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