[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] on Tuesday heard oral arguments [day call, PDF] in two civil procedure cases: Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California, San Francisco County, and BNSF Railway Co. v. Tyrrell [dockets]. Bristol-Myers Squibb [SCOTUSblog materials] focuses on whether plaintiffs may sue in a state that has no particular connection to them, but has significant connection to the defendant. The plaintiffs range from 33 states, but the action is taking place solely in California. Bristol-Myers operates out of the East Coast but runs its business nationwide. The California Supreme Court ruled [opinion, PDF] for the plaintiffs as Bristol-Myers’ contacts with the forum were “related to” the claims brought by plaintiffs out-of-state, but rejected general jurisdiction claims.
BNSF Railway [SCOTUSblog materials] focuses on whether the court should uphold its decision in Daimler AG v. Bauman [opinion]. In Daimler the court ruled that a state court could not exercise general jurisdiction over a defendant not “at home” in the forum state. The plaintiffs in BNSF Railway ask the court as to whether the Daimler ruling would prohibit two US railroad workers from filing in Montana for injuries that occurred in other states. BNSF operates extensively in the state but has argued that it is not “at home” in Montana and therefore the cases should be dismissed. Plaintiffs have responded that as they are filing under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) [text], they are allowed to bring this suit anywhere the railroad was doing business as the time of the suit. Much of the case will be determined on how the Court applies Daimler and how it interprets FELA’s jurisdiction element.