Ford Motor Co. v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court et al.

Certiorari To The Supreme Court Of Montana

No. 19–368. Argued October 7, 2020—Decided March 25, 2021 1

Ford Motor Company is a global auto company, incorporated in Delaware and headquartered in Michigan. Ford markets, sells, and services its products across the United States and overseas. The company also encourages a resale market for its vehicles. In each of these two cases, a state court exercised jurisdiction over Ford in a products-liability suit stemming from a car accident that injured a resident in the State. The first suit alleged that a 1996 Ford Explorer had malfunctioned, killing Markkaya Gullett near her home in Montana. In the second suit, Adam Bandemer claimed that he was injured in a collision on a Minnesota road involving a defective 1994 Crown Victoria. Ford moved to dismiss both suits for lack of personal jurisdiction. It argued that each state court had jurisdiction only if the company’s conduct in the State had given rise to the plaintiff’s claims. And that causal link existed, according to Ford, only if the company had designed, manufactured, or sold in the State the particular vehicle involved in the accident. In neither suit could the plaintiff make that showing. The vehicles were designed and manufactured elsewhere, and the company had originally sold the cars at issue outside the forum States. Only later resales and relocations by consumers had brought the vehicles to Montana and Minnesota. Both States’ supreme courts rejected Ford’s argument. Each held that the company’s activities in the State had the needed connection to the plaintiff’s allegations that a defective Ford caused in-state injury.

Held: The connection between the plaintiffs’ claims and Ford’s activities in the forum States is close enough to support specific jurisdiction. Pp. 4–18.

 (a) The Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause limits a state court’s power to exercise jurisdiction over a defendant. The canonical decision in this area remains International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U. S. 310. There, the Court held that a tribunal’s authority depends on the defendant’s having such “contacts” with the forum State that “the maintenance of the suit” is “reasonable” and “does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.” Id., at 316–317. In applying that formulation, the Court has long focused on the nature and extent of “the defendant’s relationship to the forum State.” Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of Cal., San Francisco Cty., 582 U. S. ___, ___. That focus has led to the recognition of two types of personal jurisdiction: general and specific jurisdiction. A state court may exercise general jurisdiction only when a defendant is “essentially at home” in the State. Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S. A v. Brown, 564 U. S 915, 919. Specific jurisdiction covers defendants less intimately connected with a State, but only as to a narrower class of claims. To be subject to that kind of jurisdiction, the defendant must take “some act by which [it] purposefully avails itself of the privilege of conducting activities within the forum State.” Hanson v. Denckla, 357 U. S. 235, 253. And the plaintiff’s claims “must arise out of or relate to the defendant’s contacts” with the forum. Bristol-Myers, 582 U. S., at ___. Pp. 4−7.

 (b) Ford admits that it has “purposefully avail[ed] itself of the privilege of conducting activities” in both States. Hanson, 357 U. S., at 253. The company’s claim is instead that those activities are insufficiently connected to the suits. In Ford’s view, due process requires a causal link locating jurisdiction only in the State where Ford sold the car in question, or the States where Ford designed and manufactured the vehicle. And because none of these things occurred in Montana or Minnesota, those States’ courts have no power over these cases.

 Ford’s causation-only approach finds no support in this Court’s requirement of a “connection” between a plaintiff’s suit and a defendant’s activities. Bristol-Myers, 582 U. S., at ___. The most common formulation of that rule demands that the suit “arise out of or relate to the defendant’s contacts with the forum.” Id., at ___. The second half of that formulation, following the word “or,” extends beyond causality. So the inquiry is not over if a causal test would put jurisdiction elsewhere. Another State’s courts may yet have jurisdiction, because of a non-causal “affiliation between the forum and the underlying controversy, principally, [an] activity or an occurrence involving the defendant that takes place within the State’s borders.” Id., at ___−___.

 And this Court has stated that specific jurisdiction attaches in cases identical to this one—when a company cultivates a market for a product in the forum State and the product malfunctions there. See World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U. S. 286. Here, Ford advertises and markets its vehicles in Montana and Minnesota, including the two models that allegedly malfunctioned in those States. Apart from sales, the company works hard to foster ongoing connections to its cars’ owners. All this Montana- and Minnesota-based conduct relates to the claims in these cases, brought by state residents in the States’ courts. Put slightly differently, because Ford had systematically served a market in Montana and Minnesota for the very vehicles that the plaintiffs allege malfunctioned and injured them in those States, there is a strong “relationship among the defendant, the forum, and the litigation”—the “essential foundation” of specific jurisdiction. Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S. A. v. Hall, 466 U. S. 408, 414. Allowing jurisdiction in these circumstances both treats Ford fairly and serves principles of “interstate federalism.” World-Wide Volkswagen, 444 U. S., 293. Pp. 8–15.

 (c) Bristol-Myers and Walden v. Fiore, 571 U. S. 277, reinforce all that the Court has said about why Montana’s and Minnesota’s courts may decide these cases. In Bristol-Myers, the Court found jurisdiction improper because the forum State, and the defendant’s activities there, lacked any connection to the plaintiffs’ claims. 582 U. S., at ___. That is not true of these cases, where the plaintiffs are residents of the forum States, used the allegedly defective products in the forum States, and suffered injuries when those products malfunctioned there. And Walden does not show, as Ford claims, that a plaintiff’s residence and place of injury can never support jurisdiction. The defendant in Walden had never formed any contact with the forum State. Ford, by contrast, has a host of forum connections. The place of a plaintiff’s injury and residence may be relevant in assessing the link between those connections and the plaintiff’s suit. Pp. 15–18.

No. 19–368, 395 Mont. 478, 443 P. 3d 407, and No. 19–369, 931 N. W. 2d 744, affirmed.

 Kagan, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Roberts, C. J., and Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kavanaugh, JJ., joined. Alito, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment. Gorsuch, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which Thomas, J., joined. Barrett, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the cases.

Notes
1 Together with No. 19–369, Ford Motor Co. v. Bandemer, on certiorari to the Supreme Court of Minnesota.


Torres v. Madrid et al.

Certiorari To The United States Court Of Appeals For The Tenth Circuit

No. 19–292. Argued October 14, 2020—Decided March 25, 2021

Respondents Janice Madrid and Richard Williamson, officers with the New Mexico State Police, arrived at an Albuquerque apartment complex to execute an arrest warrant and approached petitioner Roxanne Torres, then standing near a Toyota FJ Cruiser. The officers attempted to speak with her as she got into the driver’s seat. Believing the officers to be carjackers, Torres hit the gas to escape. The officers fired their service pistols 13 times to stop Torres, striking her twice. Torres managed to escape and drove to a hospital 75 miles away, only to be airlifted back to a hospital in Albuquerque, where the police arrested her the next day. Torres later sought damages from the officers under 42 U. S. C. §1983. She claimed that the officers used excessive force against her and that the shooting constituted an unreasonable seizure under the Fourth Amendment. Affirming the District Court’s grant of summary judgment to the officers, the Tenth Circuit held that “a suspect’s continued flight after being shot by police negates a Fourth Amendment excessive-force claim.” 769 Fed. Appx. 654, 657.

Held: The application of physical force to the body of a person with intent to restrain is a seizure even if the person does not submit and is not subdued. Pp. 3–18.

  (a) The Fourth Amendment protects “[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” This Court’s precedents have interpreted the term “seizure” by consulting the common law of arrest, the “quintessential” seizure of the person. Payton v. New York, 445 U. S. 573, 585; California v. Hodari D., 499 U. S. 621, 624. In Hodari D., this Court explained that the common law considered the application of physical force to the body of a person with the intent to restrain to be an arrest—not an attempted arrest—even if the person does not yield. Id., at 624–625. A review of the pertinent English and American decisions confirms that the slightest touching was a constructive detention that would complete the arrest. See, e.g., Genner v. Sparks, 6 Mod. 173, 87 Eng. Rep. 928.

  The analysis does not change because the officers used force from a distance to restrain Torres. The required “corporal seising or touching the defendant’s body,” 3 W. Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England 288 (1768), can be as readily accomplished by a bullet as by the end of a finger. The focus of the Fourth Amendment is “the privacy and security of individuals,” not the particular form of governmental intrusion. Camara v. Municipal Court of City and County of San Francisco, 387 U. S. 523, 528.

  The application of force, standing alone, does not satisfy the rule recognized in this decision. A seizure requires the use of force with intent to restrain, as opposed to force applied by accident or for some other purpose. County of Sacramento v. Lewis, 523 U. S. 833, 844. The appropriate inquiry is whether the challenged conduct objectively manifests an intent to restrain. Michigan v. Chesternut, 486 U. S. 567, 574. This test does not depend on either the subjective motivation of the officer or the subjective perception of the suspect. Finally, a seizure by force lasts only as long as the application of force unless the suspect submits. Hodari D., 499 U. S., at 625. Pp. 3–11.

  (b) In place of the rule that the application of force completes an arrest, the officers would assess all seizures under one test: intentional acquisition of control. This alternative approach finds support in neither the history of the Fourth Amendment nor this Court’s precedents. Pp. 11–16.

   (1) The officers attempt to recast the common law doctrine recognized in Hodari D. as a rule applicable only to civil arrests. But the common law did not define the arrest of a debtor any differently from the arrest of a felon. Treatises and courts discussing criminal arrests articulated a rule indistinguishable from the one applied to civil arrests at common law. Pp. 11–14.

   (2) The officers’ contrary test would limit seizures of a person to “an intentional acquisition of physical control.” Brower v. County of Inyo, 489 U. S. 593, 596. While that test properly describes seizures by control, seizures by force enjoy a separate common law pedigree that gives rise to a separate rule. A seizure by acquisition of control involves either voluntary submission to a show of authority or the termination of freedom of movement. But as common law courts recognized, any such requirement of control would be difficult to apply to seizures by force. The officers’ test will often yield uncertainty about whether an officer succeeded in gaining control over a suspect. For centuries, the rule recognized in this opinion has avoided such line- drawing problems. Pp. 14–16.

  (c) The officers seized Torres by shooting her with the intent to restrain her movement. This Court does not address the reasonableness of the seizure, the damages caused by the seizure, or the officers’ entitlement to qualified immunity. Pp. 17–18.

769 Fed. Appx. 654, vacated and remanded.

 Roberts, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan, and Kavanaugh, JJ., joined. Gorsuch, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Thomas and Alito, JJ., joined. Barrett, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.