Select Page

Conflicts of Law
Temple University School of Law
Little, Laura E.

Temple law

Conflict of Law

Laura Little

Winter 2016

I. Introduction

Organization of Conflict of Laws

Personal Jurisdiction (Adjudicative Jurisdiction): power of the court to bind parties by their judgements
Choice of Law (Legislative Jurisdiction) : the law that courts apply where more than one law might apply.
Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments (Judicial Jurisdiction): enforce judgement from other court systems.

Jurisdictional Concurrency: More than one government entity can have a claim to adjudicate a claim:

Example: Federal Governments, State Governments, and Local Governments.

Vertical Conflict of Law: Conflicts between the state and the federal government, and is handled by preemption, the Supremacy Clause and Erie doctrine.

Horizontal Conflict of Law: Conflicts between the states. (Also includes conflicts between various countries, and the principles that govern these conflicts are the similar to the principles that govern conflicts between states.)

II. Personal Jurisdiction

A. General and Specific Jurisdiction, Minimum Contacts

Specific Jurisdiction: A concept focused on the facts of the dispute. (Arise out of or relate to events occurring in the jurisdiction)

“Arise out of or relate to”

General Jurisdiction: Examines whether the contacts are sufficient to use jurisdiction. (Dispute blind jurisdiction) –> The contacts don’t need to have a nexus with the claim. (Continuous and Systematic)

‘Continuous and systematic activity”

Why Look at Contacts?

We look to whether a defendant had enjoyed the privileges of the state, and as a result, there is a quid pro quo justification
Foreseeability and Anticipatory Reasons
Interest in protecting citizens

Fairness Factors (Asahi)

i. the burden on the D from litigating in the forum

ii. The forum state’s interest in adjudicating the suit

iii. The plaintiff’s interest in obtaining convenient and effect relief

iv. the interest of the interstate judicial system in obtaining the most efficient resolution of controversies and

v. “the share interest of the several states in furthering fundamental substantive social policies”

1. General/ specific jurisdiction

a. Helicopteros Nacionales de Columbia, S.A. v. Hall

Fact: Helicol provides helicopter transportation for oil and construction companies in South America. Negotiations, related to a joint venture, occurred in Texas, and the resulting contract provided that all lawsuits would be tried in the courts of Peru. Helicol brought the majority of their helicopters from Bell Helicopter in Texas. Pilots were sent to Texas for training. In 1976, a Helicol helicopter crashed in Peru, killing several U.S. citizens.

The important concept here is the idea of specific & general jurisdiction:

“Even when the cause of action does not arise out of or relate to the foreign corporation’s activities in the forum State, due process is not offended by a State’s subjecting the corporation to its in personam jurisdiction when there are sufficient contacts between the State and the foreign corporation.”

When a State exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant in suit not arising out of or related to the defendant’s contacts with the forum, the State has been said to be exercising “general jurisdiction over the defendant.” p.9 n.9
It has been said that when a state exercises personal jurisdiction over a defendant in a suit arising out of or related to the defendant’s contacts with the forum, the State us exercising “specific jurisdiction” over the defendant. p.9 n.8

b. Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations v. Brown

Fact: Two young boys were killed when the bus they were riding on overturned near Paris, France. The parents filed a wrongful-death suit in state court against Goodyear U.S.A and several subsidiaries located around the world, claiming that the defective tire manufactured at Goodyear’s Turkey plant caused the accident. The subsidiaries did not conduct business in North Carolina.

The standard for general jurisdiction is “continuous and systematic activity in the state.”
(p.16 n.4 – “The Goodyear decision implies that systematic and continuous purchases from a state cannot provide the basis for general jurisdiction, while continuous and systematic sales in a state can provide a basis for general jurisdiction.”

2. Minimum contact & Fairness Factor

a. Asahi Metal Industry Co. v. Superior Court of California

Fact: A motorcycle rider lost control of their motorcycle while on a California highway and collided with a trailer, killing the motorcycle rider’s wife who was a passenger. He brought suit claiming that the sudden loss of air and explosion of

a state’s personal jurisdiction, it must purposefully avail itself of the privilege of conducting activities within the forum State, thus invoking the benefits and protections of its laws.

B. Transient Jurisdiction

a. Burnham v. Superior Court of California

Fact: The Burnham couple were married and moved to New Jersey. In the year after moving to New Jersey, the couple decided to separated and agreed that Mrs. Burnham would get custody of the children, move to California, and base the divorce on irreconcilable differences. Mr. Burnham thereafter filed for divorce in New Jersey on the grounds of desertion. During a business trip in California, Mr. Burnham visited his children and was served with a divorce petition and a summons. He tried to quash it on the basis that the court did not have jurisdiction over him.

Jurisdiction based on physical presence alone constitutes due process because it is one of the continuing traditions of our legal system that defines the due process standard of “traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.”
the minimum contacts standard was created for use in the absence of a party’s physical presence in the state,
A non-resident is properly served if he is physically present in the forum state, and the forum state may exercise personal jurisdiction over him without violating due process.

C. Personal Jurisdiction and the Internet

The concept of personal jurisdiction is challenged when discussing the internet: an object that operates across state lines; Geographic significance is hard to pin down when discussing the internet.
A popular view is that the internet is not different, and take the doctrines from outside the internet context and make them of use (with some modification) to personal jurisdiction jurisprudence. (Take the old wine and put it into new bottles)
Another approach suggests that there must be new rules to deal with internet communications