Who among us has not relished the extraordinary gift the Supreme Court gave to civil procedure teachers in the form of J. McIntyre Machinery, Ltd. v. Nicastro, allowing professors to punctuate the already absurd personal jurisdiction case line with the story of the unlucky Mr. Nicastro (he who lost four fingers to a metal shearing machine in New Jersey), with nary a place to sue? (And, no doubt reserving that one remaining finger for . . . personal jurisdiction jurisprudence.) Moreover, to ensure us a near-perfect teaching vehicle, the Court — as Professor Stephen E. Sachs notes in the wonderfully entertaining and thought-provoking How Congress Should Fix Personal Jurisdiction — “bogged down in an incoherent three-way split.”
Rather than make a futile attempt to make sense out of McIntyre, or to rationalize the mess away, Professor Sachs whole-heartedly forges into the personal jurisdiction thicket (which he labels a “dismal swamp”) with his own solution. Actually, an entire array of solutions. Sachs takes up McIntyre’s invitation to Congress to provide a federal forum for cases like Nicastro’s, and he sets forth a detailed federal statutory scheme for authorizing a federal forum based on existing venue rules. In particular, he is keen on securing federal forums to enable plaintiffs such as Nicastro to sue multinational corporations, such as McIntyre, that might otherwise evade responsibility for injuries to U.S. citizens because of existing state personal jurisdiction doctrine. Sachs notes that his proposal to create federal personal jurisdiction based on a venue model is not new, but suggests that other such attempts have been flawed in key respects (which he aims to rectify).
Linda S. Mullenix, Fixing Personal Jurisdiction, Jotwell: The Journal of Things We Like (Lots), April 15, 2013.