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U.S. Supreme Court

World-Wide Volkwagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286 (1980)

World-Wide Volkwagen Corp. v. Woodson

No. 78-1078

Argued October 3, 1979

Decided January 21, 1980

444 U.S. 286


A products liability action was instituted in an Oklahoma st,ate court by respondents husband and wife to recover for personal injuries sustained in Oklahoma in an accident involving an automobile that had been purchased by them in New York while they were New York residents and that was being driven through Oklahoma at the time of the accident. The defendants included the automobile retailer and its wholesaler (petitioners), New York corporations that did no business in Oklahoma. Petitioners entered special appearances, claiming that Oklahoma's exercise of jurisdiction over them would offend limitations on the State's jurisdiction imposed by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The trial court rejected petitioners' claims, and they then sought, but were denied, a writ of prohibition in the Oklahoma Supreme Court to restrain respondent trial judge from exercising in personam jurisdiction over them.

Held: Consistently with the Due Process Clause, the Oklahoma trial court may not exercise in personam jurisdiction over petitioners. Pp. 444 U. S. 291-299.

(a) A state court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant only so long as there exist "minimum contacts" between the defendant and the forum State. International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U. S. 310. The defendant's contacts with the forum State must be such that maintenance of the suit does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice, id. at 326 U. S. 316, and the relationship between the defendant and the forum must be such that it is "reasonable . . . to require the corporation to defend the particular suit which is brought there," id. at 326 U. S. 317. The Due Process Clause

"does not contemplate that a state may make binding a judgment in personam against an individual or corporate defendant with which the state has no contacts, ties, or relations."

Id. at 326 U. S. 319. Pp. 444 U. S. 291-294.

(b) Here, there is a total absence in the record of those affiliating circumstances that are a necessary predicate to any exercise of state court jurisdiction. Petitioners carry on no activity whatsoever in Oklahoma; they close no sales and perform no services there, avail

Page 444 U. S. 287

themselves of none of the benefits of Oklahoma law, and solicit no business there either through salespersons or through advertising reasonably calculated to reach that State. Nor does the record show that they regularly sell cars to Oklahoma residents, or that they indirectly, through others, serve or seek to serve the Oklahoma market. Although it is foreseeable that automobiles sold by petitioners would travel to Oklahoma and that the automobile here might cause injury in Oklahoma, "foreseeability" alone is not a sufficient benchmark for personal jurisdiction under the Due Process Clause. The foreseeability that is critical to due process analysis is not the mere likelihood that a product will find its way into the forum State, but rather is that the defendant's conduct and connection with the forum are such that he should reasonably anticipate being haled into court there. Nor can jurisdiction be supported on the theory that petitioners earn substantial revenue from goods used in Oklahoma. Pp. 444 U. S. 295-299.

585 P.2d 351, reversed.

WHITE, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J.,and STEWART, POWELL, REHNQUIST, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. BRENNAN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 444 U. S. 299. MARSHALL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BLACKMUN, J., joined, post, p. 444 U. S. 313. BLACKMUN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 444 U. S. 317.

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