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Joye Beth Spinks

By: Joye Beth Spinks (Read bio; 270-781-6500; jspinks@elpolaw.com

Plaintiffs and companies alike may be impacted by shifting jurisdictional boundaries based on a recent Supreme Court decision.

On March 25, 2021, the Supreme Court issued a decision in Ford Motor Company v. Montana Eighth Judicial District (consolidated with Ford Motor Company v. Bandemer). There were two lawsuits at issue, involving automobile accidents in Minnesota and Montana. The first suit alleged that 1996 Ford Explorer malfunctioned, killing the plaintiff. In the second suit, the plaintiff claimed that he was injured in a collision involving a defective 1994 Crown Victoria. Ford moved to dismiss both suits for lack of personal jurisdiction, arguing that the state courts only had jurisdiction over Ford if the company’s conduct in the state had given rise to the Plaintiffs’ claims. The automobiles at issue were only located in the forum States because of resales and relocations by consumers. Neither Plaintiff could show that Ford designed, manufactured, or sold the automobiles at issue in Montana or Minnesota. The Supreme Court held that Ford could be sued in both Montana and Minnesota even though the Ford cars involved in the accidents were manufactured and originally sold in other states.

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