In Cooper Tire & Rubber Co, v, McCall, n ° S20G1368, 2021 Ga. LEXIS 626 (Cooper Tire), the Supreme Court of Georgia (Supreme Court) ruled that Georgian courts can exercise general personal jurisdiction over foreign companies registered to do business in the state. In Cooper Tire, the plaintiff, Tyrance McCall, filed a lawsuit against Cooper Tire & Rubber Company (Cooper Tire) in Georgia state court for bodily injury suffered in a car accident. Cooper Tire filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.
The 14the The amendment limits the personal jurisdiction of state courts and lower federal courts over non-resident defendants. Personal jurisdiction over a defendant is obtained through specific or general jurisdiction within the forum State. General jurisdiction is based on the presence of the defendant in the state. The specific jurisdiction is based on the contacts of the defendant with the State. In Cooper tire, the Supreme Court considered whether it had jurisdiction over Cooper Tire on the basis of Cooper Tire’s consent to general jurisdiction.
In its petition, Cooper Tire argued that Georgian courts lacked jurisdiction because it is a Delaware company with its main office in Ohio and only minimal contacts in Georgia. The trial court allowed Cooper Tire’s motion to dismiss and the Georgia Court of Appeal (Court of Appeals) reversed the decision, finding that Cooper Tire is subject to personal jurisdiction in Georgia because it is registered to do business in the state.
The Supreme Court granted certiorari and upheld the decision of the Court of Appeal. In support of its decision, the Supreme Court refused to set aside its thirty-year precedent, as set out in Allstate Insurance v. Klein, 422 SE2d 863 (Ga. 1992). In Klein, the court ruled that Georgian courts can exercise general personal jurisdiction over a non-state company that is authorized to do or carry out transactions in Georgia at the time a claim arises. The court based its reasoning on its legal definition of “non-resident”.
Under Georgia’s Long Arm Act, a non-resident is, in part relevant, “a corporation which is not organized or existing under the laws of [the] state and is not licensed to do business or transact in Georgia at the time a claim or cause of action arises. »Ga. Code §9-10-90 (emphasis added). It is important to note that the legal definition of “non-resident” excludes companies registered to do business in Georgia.
To analyze whether Georgia had jurisdiction over Cooper Tire, the court looked to the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Pennsylvania Fire Insurance Co. v. Gold Issue Mining & Milling Co., 243 US 93 (1917). In Pennsylvania Fire Insurance Co., the court ruled that a company consents to the jurisdiction of a state court by registering to do business in that state. Although the court recognized that recent decisions of the United States Supreme Court – finding that general jurisdiction is only available over a crown corporation when its ties to the forum state are so continuous and systematic that ‘they make her “at home”, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior court, 137 S. Ct. 1773 (2017); Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, SA v. Brown, 564 US 915 (2011) – limited the scope of general personal jurisdiction over foreign companies, the court declined to follow these recent decisions. As the court noted, the United States Supreme Court did not expressly overturn its decision in Pennsylvania Fire Insurance Co., which recognizes general jurisdiction by consent.
Cooper tire establishes that a non-state corporation consents to prosecution in Georgia when it registers to do business there. Many other states have taken positions more consistent with recent United States Supreme Court case law on whether a foreign company consents to general personal jurisdiction by registering to do business there. Subrogation professionals should keep this in mind when deciding where to file a complaint.