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Personal Jurisdiction in Class Actions After Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Super. Ct. of Cal.

Strategies for Using a Personal Jurisdiction Challenge to Defeat Class Certification and Avoid Burdensome Pre-Certification Discovery

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE course will offer counsel new arguments for challenging class actions at the pleadings and the pre-certification and certification stages on jurisdictional grounds, as well as guidance in applying a landmark Supreme Court decision to class actions.


Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of Cal., 137 S. Ct. 1773 (2017), held that a state lacks personal jurisdiction over a defendant unless a connection exists between the defendant's activity in the forum state and the claims against it. Bristol-Myers concerned a mass action and the Supreme Court did not address, as Justice Sotomayor's dissent noted, how this holding would apply to a class action in which a plaintiff injured in the forum state seeks to represent a nationwide class of plaintiffs, not all of whom were injured there.

In three published decisions issued over a several week period earlier this year, the first three circuits to weigh in took different views. The Seventh Circuit court has held that Bristol-Myers was a mass tort case and, thus, did not apply to whether the court had personal jurisdiction over the defendant in a class action. The Fifth Circuit concluded that the issue of personal jurisdiction is not ripe until after class certification, apparently ignoring that personal jurisdiction over the defendant is a matter of due process. The D.C. Circuit reasoned that until a nonresident attempts to assert jurisdiction, Rule 12 motions cannot be made, but are not waived. And while there is at least some clarity on these issues in those three circuits, district courts in the other nine circuits have taken different approaches without guiding circuit precedent.

With conflicting judicial guidance on this issue, and because personal jurisdiction is fact intensive, counsel will want to be prepared to address and take advantage of all these arguments.

Listen as this distinguished panel discusses how to attempt to leverage these holdings to seek early dismissal, avoid "fishing expeditions" for qualified plaintiffs, and to then ensure that defendants' due process rights are protected.



  1. Overview of Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of Cal., 137 S. Ct. 1773 (2017)
  2. Discussions of recent circuit court opinions and select district court opinions construing Bristol-Myers
  3. Using Rule 12 at the pleadings stage and at least preserving personal jurisdiction arguments
  4. Challenging personal jurisdiction at the class certification stage
  5. Prohibitions against using discovery to find a plaintiff


The panel will review these and other critical issues:

  • Transfer motions under 28 U.S.C. § 1404, 1406, and 1631 and Bristol-Myers.
  • Overview of recent Supreme Court cases on general jurisdiction: BNSF Railway Co. v. Tyrrell, 136 S. Ct. 1549 (2017).
  • Registration and Tag Jurisdiction: What is the state of play on using these bases to establish general jurisdiction over a class defendant.


Daly, Kevin
Kevin P. Daly

Robinson & Cole

Mr. Daly focuses his practice on complex commercial litigation and trade compliance issues. He is a member of...  |  Read More

Riley, Jennifer
Jennifer A. Riley

Seyfarth Shaw

Ms. Riley practices in the employment litigation area, with a particular emphasis on complex collective and class...  |  Read More

Weiss, Aaron
Aaron S. Weiss

Carlton Fields

Mr. Weiss maintains a national litigation practice focused on telecommunications law, class actions and consumer...  |  Read More

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