Personal jurisdiction study questions (superseded)

Note added 8/23/16:

These study questions were used when this course was taught over two semesters. The course is now taught in one semester, so these study questions are no longer being used in the first-year civil procedure course. See your assignments page for updated study questions and other learning resources.


  1. Be aware that there are two suits. Who sued whom in the first? The second? In what court(s)? What were the suits about?
  2. Note that the issue in Pennoyer (the second suit) is whether there was personal jurisdiction (“PJ”) in the first suit. Why do the merits of the second
    suit hinge on whether there was PJ in the first?
  3. What is the difference between in personam and in rem jurisdiction? Why were both unsatisfied according to Pennoyer?
  4. Keep in mind that notice is not the same thing as PJ. Giving notice does not always automatically create PJ.
  5. Pay close attention to the two “principles of public law” that Justice Field describes. To be clear, these come from international law, and Justice Field applies them to the states by analogy. In my opinion, the entire framework of “territorial” jurisdiction stems from these principles, so pay particular attention to them.
  6. Why might it be argued that the discussion of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process clause (p. 151) is dicta? For that matter, what is dicta?
  7. Regardless of your answer to the previous question, does Justice Field’s discussion of Due Process add much in the way of a test for PJ?


  1. How does Hess show the difficulties of the Pennoyer framework?
  2. How does Hess try to satisfy Pennoyer?
  3. Regarding Hess, would Pennoyer have been satisfied if the only service was on the defendant at home in Pennsylvania? If your answer to that question is no, might that provide a clue as to why the Massachusetts state legislature wrote this statute?
  4. How does the Massachusetts statute comply with Pennoyer?
  5. Suppose Donald goes to Massachusetts and orders a nice meal at a restaurant. He leaves without paying and then drives home to Pennsylvania. If Donald is sued in a Massachusetts state court, would the Massachusetts statute permit personal jurisdiction?

International Shoe:

  1. What does International Shoe do to the two “Principles of Public Law” enunciated in Pennoyer? Does it overrule Pennoyer entirely? In part? If so, what part or parts?
  2. International Shoe is the leading modern case on personal jurisdiction, although it does not provide the final word on PJ. Keep in mind that your understanding of the law of PJ will evolve with each new case.
  3. Having said that, what is the rule or standard of International Shoe? Identify language that seems to provide the law for determining PJ.
  4. In addition, look at the minimum contacts table. What part of the table best describes the facts of International Shoe? For the table, consider in particular the language starting on CB pg. 165.
  5. Can you identify which portions of the opinion might correspond to the boxes in the minimum contacts table?
  6. Regarding long-arm statutes, consider the materials on CB pp. 174-75 and the long-arm handout. What is the difference between analysis under a state long-arm statute and analysis under the Fourteenth Amendment? When a long-arm exists, must one consider both? Rhetorical question: must a driver stop and look every time he or she reaches another stop sign?
  7. How does International Shoe recast Hess?
  8. How does International Shoe modify Pennoyer‘s two principles of public laws?

McGee, Hanson, and World-Wide Volkswagen:

  1. Note the shift in Court rationales from McGee to Hanson to World-Wide Volkswagen.
  2. Regarding World-Wide Volkswagen (“WWVW”), who are the defendants? Which defendants are objecting to PJ before the Supreme Court?
  3. What does the WWVW majority mean by “reasonableness” in Part II? Is “reasonableness” alone enough to find PJ?
  4. What does the WWVW majority mean by “foreseeability” in Part III? What role does “purposeful availment” (a term imported from Hanson) play?
  5. According to the WWVW majority, why was purposeful availment by the defendants lacking?
  6. Re-review the minimum contacts table. After WWVW, is it enough to have contacts, or must the contacts also evidence that the defendant “purposefully availed” itself of the privileges and benefits of the forum state?
  7. What is “stream of commerce”? See Justice White’s reference to Gray v. American Radiator on page 188. Is WWVW a stream of commerce case? This reference will become even more important when we read the Asahi case (in about a week).
  8. Pay close attention to Justice Brennan’s dissent in World-Wide Volkswagen. Keep in mind that today’s dissenter may be writing for tomorrow’s majority.

Keeton and Calder:

  1. Why was PJ analyzed differently in Keeton and Calder? Didn’t both cases concern alleged defamation in a nationally-distributed publication?
  2. In Calder, does the Court provide a clear rule? Does it provide any rule? (Notably, the opinion was written by then-Justice Rehnquist.)
  3. Under Calder’s reasoning, would there be liability for remote negligence? Or must the tort be intentional? Might the effects test apply to remote business torts such as trademark infringement?
  4. How does Walden v. Fiore affect the Calder test?

Burger King:

  1. Remember that Justice Brennan dissented in World-Wide Volkswagen. Reconsider that dissent. Does Burger King evoke some of the ideas he proposed in World-Wide?
  2. According to Justice Brennan, what is the relationship between purposeful availment and reasonableness? What happens once the plaintiff shows purposeful availment — i.e., who then has the burden of showing reasonableness or unreasonableness? How strong of a burden is it?
  3. Where a contract is the basis for PJ, what factors increase the likelihood that there will be purposeful availment?
  4. Did the contract contain a “choice-of-forum” clause or a “choice-of-law” clause? What is the difference between the two? Does the court assign any relevance to the clause?
  5. After Burger King, would you recommend that your contracting clients use a choice-of-law clause? A choice-of-forum clause? Both? Why?


  1. Recall World-Wide Volkswagen. Didn’t the majority seem to approve of a stream of commerce theory in that decision? If so, was that a holding or dicta?
  2. Asahi is a case for which you must make a “score card” listing the line-ups and vote counts for each part of the opinion.
  3. How does Justice O’Connor treat reasonableness?
  4. Who is missing from Justice O’Connor’s discussion of reasonableness? Any ideas as to why she or he did not join the opinion?
  5. How does Justice O’Connor treat purposeful availment in the stream-of-commerce context (or in her terms, “purposeful direction”)?
  6. Which part of Justice O’Connor’s opinion actually decides the case?
  7. How does Justice Brennan agree with Justice O’Connor? How does he disagree?
  8. Does Justice Stevens agree with either Justice O’Connor or Brennan? If not, what is the practical effect of Stevens’ refusal to join fully with O’Connor, or alternatively, with Brennan?
  9. What if Mr. Zurcher remained in the suit and asserted a claim against Asahi? Analyze.
  10. What if Asahi was from Canada? Analyze.


  1. What is the difference between specific and general jurisdiction?
  2. Why doesn’t the Court decide Daimler on the basis of specific jurisdiction?
  3. What kind of activity is required to show general jurisdiction? Recall how International Shoe uses various terms, such as “systematic,” “continuous,” and even “substantial.” How would you describe the facts of the other cases discussed in Daimler?
  4. What does it mean for a corporation to be “essentially at home in the forum State”? Examples?


  1. What is the difference between in rem and quasi-in-rem jurisdiction?
  2. See the In Rem/Quasi-in-Rem handout. What is the difference been Type I and Type II quasi-in-rem jurisdiction? Into which category does Shaffer fall?
  3. Why do Justices Powell and Stevens write separately even though they concur? Why does Justice Brennan concur in part and dissent in part?
  4. What is the “rule” enunciated in Shaffer? What does the Court mean by the use of the word “all” in the last paragraph on page 274?
  5. What effect, if any, might Shaffer have on Pennoyer’s Principles of Public Law?
  6. Why does Justice Marshall conclude that there is no PJ over the 21 individual defendants?
  7. Does Marshall think that Delaware’s statute permits PJ over the defendants?
  8. Does Marshall think that the Due Process Clause permits PJ over the defendants?
  9. Justices Powell and Stevens write separately even though they concur. Why did they write? Do they disagree with Marshall in part? How?
  10. Justice Brennan concurs in part and dissents in part. How does he agree? How does he disagree?
  11. After reading all the opinions in this case, do you think that Pennoyer’s First Principle of Public Law has been definitively overruled? Regarding property? Persons?


  1. What are the line-ups? Vote counts? Does anyone have a majority? If not, who is the spoiler (again!)?
  2. Why is there a split in the reasoning? What is the nature of the disagreement?
  3. What meaning does Justice Scalia assign to the word “traditional?” Does Justice Brennan provide a different meaning? What “test” or “rationale” does each use to support personal jurisdiction via transient presence?
  4. Justice Scalia’s opinion on pages 287-89 discusses at length why Shaffer’s “all” language should not govern the outcome of the dispute before the Court. Are you convinced? If you are not, might it be argued that Shaffer’s “all” language was dicta to the extent it spoke beyond the dispute before the Shaffer Court?
  5. Are you convinced by Justice Brennan’s rationale? According to him, could service on defendant while s/he is briefly present in a state support personal jurisdiction for any claim, even an unrelated one?
  6. Does Justice White’s concurrence raise any additional concerns about transient presence? What if somebody tricks the defendant into going into a state? Does Justice Brennan share Justice White’s concerns?
  7. Suppose David from Alaska gets into a wreck with Nancy from New Jersey. The accident happens in eastern Pennsylvania. Nancy then files suit against David in New Jersey state court. Importantly, this is how David got served: after the complaint was filed, David was driving through Philadelphia, PA and missed his exit. As a result, he could not get off the highway in Pennsylvania and could only get back into Pennsylvania by heading east, going over the Ben Franklin Bridge into Camden, New Jersey, and then turning around to go west, back to Philadelphia. While David was at a red light in Camden waiting to head back to Pennsylvania, process server Tommy Lee knocked on David’s car window. David opened the car window and Tommy Lee served David with the complaint and summons. Question: is there transient presence jurisdiction over David in New Jersey? Might the analysis differ depending on whether a court follows Scalia or Brennan?

State and federal long-arms:

State long-arm statutes

  1. Does the Due Process clause authorize PJ or does it limit PJ?
  2. If the Due Process clause does not authorize PJ, might that explain why state legislatures enact “long-arm” statutes?
  3. How is PJ measured in a state court? Should one only analyze Due Process? Should one analyze the long-arm statute? Should one analyze both?
  4. If one must analyze both Due Process and the state’s long-arm statute, must both be satisfied? Or is it ok if only one is satisfied? Hint: if you are driving down the street, must you comply with all traffic signals (such as a stop sign) or only some of them?
  5. What is an enumerated long-arm statute? Are the Illinois and New York long-arm statutes examples of enumerated statutes?
  6. What about the California long-arm statute? If we call it unenumerated, how would it differ from the Illinois/New York statutes?
  7. See the discussion of the New York long-arm in Bensusan. If the court had interpreted the statute using the rationale of Gray (page 316), would there have been PJ?
  8. Note the long-arm handout. Do all long-arms have the same scope?
  9. Suppose that a state adopts LA-4 (PJ over anyone alive) from the handout. P (Florida) sues D (Alaska) in Florida state court for a tort occurring in Alaska. Is there PJ under the long-arm? Is Due Process satisfied? Is there PJ?
  10. Note that in addition to long-arm statutes, states often have specialized jurisdictional statutes such as the long-armish statutes at issue in Hess and Shaffer.
  11. Why would a state create an enumerated long-arm statute that doesn’t reach to the full extent of what is permitted by the Due Process clause?

Federal long-arm statutes:

  1. Which Due Process clause applies against the states? The federal government? The Fifth or the Fourteenth?
  2. Which Due Process clause would permit broader assertions of PJ? The Fifth or the Fourteenth? Why?
  3. What is the purpose of FRCP 4(n)? Did it apply to the court in Shaffer?
  4. Is general jurisdiction for PJ the same thing as what is meant by the term “court of general jurisdiction” in FRCP 4(k)(1)(A)?
  5. How should one analyze PJ in a federal court in Florida under FRCP 4(k)(1)(A)? Hint: how would one analyze PJ in a state court in Florida?
  6. Most assertions of PJ in federal court are governed by FRCP 4(k)(1)(A). Does this rule help to encourage, or to avoid, forum-shopping between state and federal court? Why?
  7. What about PJ under FRCP 4(k)(2). Can this basis be used in state court? Why?
  8. What are the elements of PJ under FRCP 4(k)(2)? Articulate them. Give an example.
  9. Can FRCP 4(k)(2) be used to establish PJ if FRCP 4(k)(1)(A) is satisfied?
  10. Can FRCP 4(k)(2) be used to establish PJ if the cause of action is based on state law?
  11. Note that FRCP 4(k)(1)(C) permits PJ based on a federal statute as well. Next semester, we will discuss “statutory interpleader,” which permits nationwide PJ.
  12. Think about FRCP 4(k)(1)(B), which is also known as the “bulge” rule. Recall the Asahi case, where Asahi was joined by something similar to what we will later call a “third-party complaint” under Rule 14. Suppose an accident occurs in Tallahassee, Florida. The victim sues the other driver, who is a citizen of Georgia. The suit is filed in federal court in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida, located in Tallahassee. In that same court, the defendant files a third-party complaint, seeking contribution from a tire shop located in southern Georgia that sold the defendant tires. The Georgia tire shop, located 57 miles from the Tallahassee federal courthouse, does no business in Florida, has no advertising in Florida, and has never sold tires to any Florida citizen. The tire shop has no contacts with Florida whatsoever. Is there personal jurisdiction over the Georgia tire shop?
  13. What if the lawsuit in question # 12 was filed in Florida state court? Is there PJ?

Updated Aug. 23, 2016 (adding disclaimer at top)