A pair of recent Supreme Court decisions, Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S. Ct. 746 (2014) and Walden v. Fiore, 134 S. Ct. 1115 (2014) have substantially raised the bar for establishing personal jurisdiction over foreign defendants. In a brief unpublished opinion, Maxitrate Tratamento Termico v. Super Systems, Inc., the Sixth Circuit applied these cases to reject a claim of personal jurisdiction over a Brazilian entity. The dispute arose out of personal injuries that an Ohio citizen suffered in Brazil as a result of a factory explosion, and he sued the factory’s insurer. Although the insurer was affiliated with a global insurer, the particular entity itself was Brazilian.
In the wake of Daimler, the plaintiff did not even bother to press general personal jurisdiction. Instead, he focused on specific jurisdiction. The Sixth Circuit, applying Walden, found that the defendant did not purposefully avail itself of the privilege of acting in the forum state. Although the plaintiff insisted that jurisdiction was proper because the defendant knew that its intentional acts would cause effects in a state, the Sixth Circuit held that Walden “rejected that theory of personal jurisdiction.” This is one of the first circuit-level decisions to squarely hold that Walden abrogated the “effects” test.
The short work that the Sixth Circuit made of this case illustrates the challenges to those trying to sue foreign entities in the U.S., and the message that the federal courts are internalizing from the Supreme Court’s recent guidance.