Mallory v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued an opinion straight out of your first-year CivPro book. Pennsylvania requires any corporation that does business in the state to register with the Department of State. The Judiciary and Judicial Procedure Title renders any corporation registered with the state subject to the courts’ personal jurisdiction. Here, a Virginia resident filed an action in Pennsylvania against a Virginia corporation, alleging injuries in Virginia and Ohio. The plaintiff asserted that Pennsylvania courts had general personal jurisdiction over the case based exclusively upon the foreign corporation’s registration to conduct business in the Commonwealth. The trial court disagreed and held that it did not have jurisdiction. The Supreme Court reviewed the classic jurisdiction cases of Daimler AG v. Bauman and Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown. It then held that Pennsylvania’s statutory scheme violated due process to the extent that it allowed for general jurisdiction over foreign corporations, absent affiliations within the state that are so continuous and systematic as to render the foreign corporation essentially at home in Pennsylvania. The Court also held that compliance with Pennsylvania’s mandatory registration requirement did not constitute voluntary consent to general personal jurisdiction.

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