The PA Superior Court of Pennsylvania - the Commonwealth's intermediate appellate court - recently issued its long-awaited en banc opinion in Murray v. Am. Lafrance. A copy of the decision is attached HERE.
They key issue in Murray was whether an out-of-state company that registers to do business in Pennsylvania consents to general personal jurisdiction. The Pennsylvania corporate registration statute purports to confer consent to general jurisdiction over an out-of-state entity in exchange for the ability to conduct business within the Commonwealth. This issue has been hotly contested in recent years within Pennsylvania, with several courts finding that the registration statute is unconstitutional under U.S. Supreme Court precedent in Daimler, which provides that an out-of-state defendant is only subject to general jurisdiction where it is incorporated or maintains a principal place of business.
Despite the holding in Daimler, the Superior Court recently found in another matter that registration to conduct business in Pennsylvania establishes consent to general jurisdiction in the Commonwealth in a manner than comports with due process. Many defense-oriented commentators hoped that Murray would provide an opportunity for the Superior Court to reverse its prior rulings in accordance with Daimler.
In Murray, the trial court originally dismissed an out-of-state defendant for lack of general personal jurisdiction under Daimler, and on rehearing en banc the Superior Court upheld the order, but refused to resolve the mandatory consent to general jurisdiction issue, finding instead that Plaintiffs waived the argument by failing to raise it at the trial level. Although the Superior Court affirmed the order dismissing the out-of-state defendant for lack of personal jurisdiction, it did not address the merits of plaintiff's argument that the defendant consented to jurisdiction by registering to conduct business in Pennsylvania.
Unfortunately for out-of-state product defendants that are registered to conduct business in Pennsylvania, the state of the law is such that consent by registration is still a sufficient basis for plaintiffs to assert general jurisdiction over out-of-state defendants in Pennsylvania, even after the Daimler decision appeared to reject this approach.
As this blog has previously reported, other states have rejected registration by an out-of-state defendant as consent to jurisdiction.
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