Current Issue

Volume 89, Number 3

June 2014

“Not of Any Particular State”: J. McIntyre Machinery, Ltd. v. Nicastro and Nonspecific Purposeful Availment

Robert M. Pollack

The Supreme Court recently revisited the doctrine of specific personal jurisdiction for the first time in decades in J. McIntyre Machinery, Ltd. v. Nicastro, which resulted in a fractured opinion, a flurry of critical scholarship, and uncertainty on the lower courts. This Note argues that the principal significance of Nicastro lies in the sensitivity of the Breyer concurrence to the problems modernity poses for jurisdictional doctrine and its concomitant willingness to reevaluate the doctrine. Lower courts and litigants should see the case as an invitation to address such “modern concerns” in jurisdictional analysis within the bounds implied by Justice Breyer. This Note proposes that the jurisdictional problem of an interconnected globalized economy is the same as that posed by the Internet—the novel and increasingly pervasive fact of nonspecific purposeful availment of transjurisdictional contacts—and that such contemporary circumstances necessarily erode the utility of minimum contacts analysis as a consistent and fair limitation on personal jurisdiction, such that a more robust implementation of fairness balancing must become the engine of the doctrine.