April 25, 2017
OF CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF CALIFORNIA
of plaintiffs, most of whom are not California residents,
sued Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMS) in California state
court, alleging that the pharmaceutical company's drug
Plavix had damaged their health. BMS is incorporated in
Delaware and headquartered in New York, and it maintains
substantial operations in both New York and New Jersey.
Although it engages in business activities in California and
sells Plavix there, BMS did not develop, create a marketing
strategy for, manufacture, label, package, or work on the
regulatory approval for Plavix in the State. And the
nonresident plaintiffs did not allege that they obtained
Plavix from a California source, that they were injured by
Plavix in California, or that they were treated for their
injuries in California.
The California Superior Court denied BMS's motion to
quash service of summons on the nonresidents' claims for
lack of personal jurisdiction, concluding that BMS's
extensive activities in the State gave the California courts
general jurisdiction. Following this Court's decision in
Daimler AG v. Bauman, 571 U.S.___, the State Court
of Appeal found that the California courts lacked general
jurisdiction. But the Court of Appeal went on to find that
the California courts had specific jurisdiction over the
claims brought by the nonresident plaintiffs. Affirming, the
State Supreme Court applied a "sliding scale
approach" to specific jurisdiction, concluding that
BMS's "wide ranging" contacts with the State
were enough to support a finding of specific jurisdiction
over the claims brought by the nonresident plaintiffs. That
attenuated connection was met, the court held, in part
because the nonresidents' claims were similar in many
ways to the California residents' claims and because BMS
engaged in other activities in the State.
California courts lack specific jurisdiction to entertain the
nonresidents' claims. Pp. 4-12.
(a) The personal jurisdiction of state courts is
"subject to review for compatibility with the Fourteenth
Amendment's Due Process Clause." Goodyear Dunlop
Tires Operations, S. A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 918.
This Court's decisions have recognized two types of
personal jurisdiction: general and specific. For general
jurisdiction, the "paradigm forum" is an
"individual's domicile, " or, for corporations,
"an equivalent place, one in which the corporation is
fairly regarded as at home." Id., at 924.
Specific jurisdiction, however, requires "the suit"
to "aris[e] out of or relat[e] to the defendant's
contacts with the forum." Daimler, supra,
at___(internal quotation marks omitted).
The "primary concern" in assessing personal
jurisdiction is "the burden on the defendant."
World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S.
286, 292. Assessing this burden obviously requires a court to
consider the practical problems resulting from litigating in
the forum, but it also encompasses the more abstract matter
of submitting to the coercive power of a State that may have
little legitimate interest in the claims in question. At
times, "the Due Process Clause, acting as an instrument
of interstate federalism, may . . . divest the State of its
power to render a valid judgment." Id., at 294.
(b) Settled principles of specific jurisdiction control this
case. For a court to exercise specific jurisdiction over a
claim there must be an "affiliation between the forum
and the underlying controversy, principally, [an] activity or
an occurrence that takes place in the forum State."
Goodyear, supra, at 919 (internal quotation marks
and brackets omitted). When no such connection exists,
specific jurisdiction is lacking regardless of the extent of
a defendant's unconnected activities in the State. The
California Supreme Court's "sliding scale
approach"-which resembles a loose and spurious form of
general jurisdiction-is thus difficult to square with this
Court's precedents. That court found specific
jurisdiction without identifying any adequate link between
the State and the nonresidents' claims. The mere fact
that other plaintiffs were prescribed, obtained, and
ingested Plavix in California does not allow the State to
assert specific jurisdiction over the nonresidents'
claims. Nor is it sufficient (or relevant) that BMS conducted
research in California on matters unrelated to Plavix. What
is needed is a connection between the forum and the specific
claims at issue. Cf. Walden v. Fiore, 571 U.S.___.
(c) The nonresident plaintiffs' reliance on Keeton v.
Hustler Magazine, Inc., 465 U.S. 770, and Phillips
Petroleum Co. v. Shutts, 472 U.S. 797, is misplaced.
Keeton concerned jurisdiction to determine the
scope of a claim involving in-state injury and injury to
residents of the State, not, as here, jurisdiction to
entertain claims involving no in-state injury and no injury
to residents of the forum State. And Shutts, which
concerned the due process rights of plaintiffs, has
no bearing on the question presented here. Pp. 9-11.
(d) BMS's decision to contract with McKesson, a
California company, to distribute Plavix nationally does not
provide a sufficient basis for personal jurisdiction. It is
not alleged that BMS engaged in relevant acts together with
McKesson in California or that BMS is derivatively liable for
McKesson's conduct in California. The bare fact that BMS
contracted with a California distributor is not enough to
establish personal jurisdiction in the State. Pp. 11-12.
(e) The Court's decision will not result in the parade of
horribles that respondents conjure up. It does not prevent
the California and out-of-state plaintiffs from joining
together in a consolidated action in the States that have
general jurisdiction over BMS. Alternatively, the nonresident
plaintiffs could probably sue together in their respective
home States. In addition, since this decision concerns the
due process limits on the exercise of specific jurisdiction
by a State, the question remains open whether the Fifth
Amendment imposes the same restrictions on the exercise of
personal jurisdiction by a federal court. P. 12.
Cal. 5th 783, 377 P.3d 874, reversed and remanded.
J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C.
J., and Kennedy, Thomas, Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan, and
Gorsuch, JJ., joined. SOTOMAYOR, J., filed a dissenting
than 600 plaintiffs, most of whom are not California
residents, filed this civil action in a California state
court against Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMS), asserting a
variety of state-law claims based on injuries allegedly
caused by a BMS drug called Plavix. The California Supreme
Court held that the California courts have specific
jurisdiction to entertain the nonresidents' claims. We
large pharmaceutical company, is incorporated in Delaware and
headquartered in New York, and it maintains substantial
operations in both New York and New Jersey. 1 Cal. 5th 783');">1 Cal. 5th 783,
790, 377 P.3d 874, 879 (2016). Over 50 percent of BMS's
work force in the United States is employed in those two
also engages in business activities in other jurisdictions,
including California. Five of the company's research and
laboratory facilities, which employ a total of around 160
employees, are located there. Ibid. BMS also employs
about 250 sales representatives in California and maintains a
small state-government advocacy office in Sacramento.
the pharmaceuticals that BMS manufactures and sells is
Plavix, a prescription drug that thins the blood and inhibits
blood clotting. BMS did not develop Plavix in California, did
not create a marketing strategy for Plavix in California, and
did not manufacture, label, package, or work on the
regulatory approval of the product in California.
Ibid. BMS instead engaged in all of these activities
in either New York or New Jersey. Ibid. But BMS does
sell Plavix in California. Between 2006 and 2012, it sold
almost 187 million Plavix pills in the State and took in more
than $900 million from those sales. 1 Cal. 5th, at 790-791,
377 P.3d, at 879. This amounts to a little over one percent
of the company's nationwide sales revenue. Id.,
at 790, 377 P.3d, at 879.
of plaintiffs-consisting of 86 California residents and 592
residents from 33 other States-filed eight separate
complaints in California Superior Court, alleging that Plavix
had damaged their health. Id., at 789, 377 P.3d, at
878. All the complaints asserted 13 claims under California
law, including products liability, negligent
misrepresentation, and misleading advertising claims.
Ibid. The nonresident plaintiffs did not allege that
they obtained Plavix through California physicians or from
any other California source; nor did they claim that they
were injured by Plavix or were treated for their injuries in
lack of personal jurisdiction, BMS moved to quash service of
summons on the nonresidents' claims, but the California
Superior Court denied this motion, finding that the
California courts had general jurisdiction over BMS
"[b]ecause [it] engages in extensive activities in
California." App. to Pet. for Cert. 150. BMS
unsuccessfully petitioned the State Court of Appeal for a
writ of mandate, but after our decision on general
jurisdiction in Daimler AG v. Bauman, 571
U.S.___(2014), the California Supreme Court instructed the
Court of Appeal "to vacate its order denying mandate and
to issue an order to show cause why relief sought in the
petition should not be granted." App. 9-10.
Court of Appeal then changed its decision on the question of
general jurisdiction. 228 Cal.App.4th 605, 175 Cal.Rptr.3d
412 (2014). Under Daimler, it held, general
jurisdiction was clearly lacking, but it went on to find that
the California courts had specific jurisdiction over the
nonresidents' claims against BMS. 228 Cal.App.4th 605,
175 Cal.Rptr. 3d, at 425-439.
California Supreme Court affirmed. The court unanimously
agreed with the Court of Appeal on the issue of general
jurisdiction, but the court was divided on the question of
specific jurisdiction. The majority applied a "sliding
scale approach to specific jurisdiction." 1 Cal. 5th, at
806, 377 P.3d, at 889. Under this approach, "the more
wide ranging the defendant's forum contacts, the more
readily is shown a connection between the forum contacts and
the claim." Ibid, (internal quotation marks
omitted). Applying this test, the majority concluded that
"BMS's extensive contacts with California"
permitted the exercise of specific jurisdiction "based
on a less direct connection between BMS's forum
activities and plaintiffs' claims than might otherwise be
required." Ibid. This attenuated requirement
was met, the majority found, because the claims of the
nonresidents were similar in several ways to the claims of
the California residents (as to which specific jurisdiction
was uncontested). Id., at 803-806, 377 P.3d, at
887-889. The court noted that "[b]oth the resident and
nonresident plaintiffs' claims are based on the same
allegedly defective product and the assertedly misleading
marketing and promotion of that product." Id.,
at 804, 377 P.3d, at 888. And while acknowledging that
"there is no claim that Plavix itself was designed and
developed in [BMS's California research facilities],
" the court thought it significant that other research
was done in the State. Ibid.
justices dissented. "The claims of . . . nonresidents
injured by their use of Plavix they purchased and used in
other states, " they wrote, "in no sense arise from
BMS's marketing and sales of Plavix in California, "
and they found that the "mere similarity" of the
residents' and nonresidents' claims was not enough.
Id., at 819, 377 P.3d, at 898 (opinion of Werdegar,
J.). The dissent accused the majority of "expand[ing]
specific jurisdiction to the point that, for a large category
of defendants, it becomes indistinguishable from general
jurisdiction." Id., at 816, 377 P.3d, at 896.
granted certiorari to decide whether the California
courts' exercise of jurisdiction in this case violates
the Due Process Clause of the ...