The court’s majority rejected the argument that such an assertion of jurisdiction violated the company’s due process rights in a case that will have ramifications for companies doing business nationwide, including in the state of Florida.
At the end of a term involving headline-grabbing cases involving the “independent legislature doctrine,” affirmative action, and the Voting Rights Act, the U.S. Supreme Court also resolved a more “mundane” issue to the public, but a critical one for practitioners: Mallory v. Norfolk Southern Railway. The court in Mallory held that an out-of-state defendant corporation could be subject to general jurisdiction in a state based on its consent through a “doing business” registration; the defendant corporation had registered to “do business” in a state that required such registration, which required registering out-of-state companies to then appear in that state’s courts “on any cause of action” brought against them. The court’s majority rejected the argument that such an assertion of jurisdiction violated the company’s due process rights in a case that will have ramifications for companies doing business nationwide, including in the state of Florida.
The facts in Mallory are straightforward. The plaintiff had been an employee of Norfolk Southern Railway for almost 20 years in Ohio and Virginia, during which time he encountered asbestos and other chemicals in the company’s paint shop and allegedly demolished car interiors that he contends contained carcinogens. Following his employment, Mr. Mallory moved to Pennsylvania for some time before returning back to Virginia. Robert Mallory was diagnosed with cancer and attributed his diagnosis to the activities he performed at Norfolk Southern. He chose to sue Northern Southern in Pennsylvania under the federal Employers’ Liability Act, which created a workers’ compensation scheme for railroad employees to recover damages for their employers’ negligence.
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