Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Split of Authority in Pennsylvania Federal District Courts on General Jurisdiction Issue

It appears that a dispute has arisen between the Federal District Courts of Pennsylvania as to whether or not Pennsylvania's long arm statute imposing general jurisdiction upon any foreign corporation registering to do business in Pennsylvania is constitutional.

In the case of Kraus v. Alcatel-Lucent, No. 18-2119 (E.D. Pa. Feb. 27, 2020 Savage, J.), the court ruled that Pennsylvania’s long-arm statute, which allows for general jurisdiction on any foreign corporation registering to do business in Pennsylvania, is constitutional. 

On the basis of this ruling, the court in Kraus denied a Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.

Anyone wishing to review the Kraus decision may click this LINK.  The Court's companion Order can be viewed HERE.

In contrast, in the case of Reynolds v. Turning Point Holding Co., No. 2:19-CV-01935-JDW (E.D. Pa. Feb. 26, 2020 Wolson, J.), the court granted a Motion to Dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction after finding, in part, that Pennsylvania’s statutory scheme requiring foreign corporations to consent to general personal jurisdiction in Pennsylvania by virtue of registering to do business in Pennsylvania violates the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution. 

According to this Opinion, the Defendant franchiser involved in this matter did not have any significant contacts with Pennsylvania and the store where the Plaintiff was alleged injured was a separately maintained corporation.

The court in Reynolds ruled that the Defendant’s registration as a foreign corporation to do business in Pennsylvania was insufficient to subject it to general personal jurisdiction. 

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

I send thanks to Attorney James M. Beck of the Reed Smith law office in Philadelphia for bringing this case to my attention.

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