May 23, 2022

Fishkin Lucks Wins Reconsideration and Dismissal in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas

The Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas granted the Firm’s motions for reconsideration of its February 2020 orders overruling the Firm’s clients’ Preliminary Objections (“POs”) and dismissed with prejudice, for lack of personal jurisdiction, the plaintiff’s complaint against Firm clients Texaco Inc. and Union Oil Company of California. Plaintiff, an out-of-state resident whose claims arose outside the Commonwealth, had initially defeated the Firm’s POs by arguing that the court had jurisdiction over Texaco and Union Oil based on their registration to do business in Pennsylvania. In overruling the POs, the court declined to credit the Firm’s arguments that “registration-based” personal jurisdiction is unconstitutional based on a series of decisions beginning with Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S.915, 919 (2011), where the United States Supreme Court held that the exercise of general jurisdiction based on a foreign corporation’s contacts with the forum state is constitutional only where the corporation’s “affiliations with the State” are “so ‘continuous and systematic’ as to render [it] essentially at home in the forum state,” and continuing with Daimler AG v. Bauman, 571 U.S. 117, 139 n. 19 (2014), where the Supreme Court reaffirmed and clarified Goodyear’s “essentially at home” test, explaining that where a corporation is neither incorporated nor has its principal place of business in the forum, jurisdiction should only be exercised in the most “exceptional” circumstances. However, in December 2021, in Mallory v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co., 266 A.3d 542 (Pa 2021) the Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed with the Firm’s arguments that premising personal jurisdiction on a foreign corporation’s registration to do business in the Commonwealth is unconstitutional. The Firm successfully argued on reconsideration that, based on Mallory, Goodyear, and Daimler, there was never any basis for the Court of Common Pleas to exercise personal jurisdiction over Texaco or Union Oil, which were not and are not “essentially at home” in the Commonwealth.