Asahi Metal Industry Co. v. Superior Court of Cal., Solano Cty.

PETITIONER: Asahi Metal Company, Ltd.
RESPONDENT: Superior Court of California, Solano County
LOCATION: Highway 80, Solano County, California

DOCKET NO.: 85-693
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1986-1987)
LOWER COURT: Supreme Court of California

CITATION: 480 US 102 (1987)
ARGUED: Nov 05, 1986
DECIDED: Feb 24, 1987
GRANTED: Mar 03, 1986

ADVOCATES:
Graydon S. Staring - on behalf of Petitioner
Ronald R. Haven - on behalf of Respondent

Facts of the case

On September 23, 1978, Gary Zurcher lost control of his Honda motorcycle while riding down Highway 80 in Solano County, California. His motorcycle collided with a trailer and killed his passenger and wife, Ruth Ann Moreno. A year later, Zurcher filed a liability suit alleging that the sudden loss of air and subsequent explosion of his rear tire caused the accident. His complaint named Cheng Shin Rubber Industrial Company, the Taiwanese manufacturer of the tube, as a defendant. Cheng Shin sued its co-defendant, Asahi Metal Industry Company, the Japanese manufacturer of the tube's valve assembly. Zurcher's claim was eventually settled, which left the suit against Asahi still outstanding.

Asahi filed a motion with the superior court to quash the summons by arguing that the court had no jurisdiction over the company. The Court denied the motion because Asahi does business internationally and therefore should be subject to international laws. The Court of Appeal of the State of California ordered the Superior Court to grant the motion because it was not reasonably foreseeable for Asahi products to end up in California. The Supreme Court of the State of California reversed and held that Asahi placed its components in a "stream of commerce" with the awareness that some of those components ended up in California.

Question

Does the Superior Court of California, Solano County have jurisdiction over the Asahi Metal Industry Company under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?

Media for Asahi Metal Industry Co. v. Superior Court of Cal., Solano Cty.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 05, 1986 in Asahi Metal Industry Co. v. Superior Court of Cal., Solano Cty.

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - February 24, 1987 in Asahi Metal Industry Co. v. Superior Court of Cal., Solano Cty.

William H. Rehnquist:

The opinions of the Court in No. 85-693, Asahi Metal Industry versus Superior Court, and No. 85-732, Western Airlines versus Board of Equalization of South Dakota will be announced by Justice O'Connor.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

The Asahi case comes to us on writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of California.

It began as a product liability suit in California State Court by an injured person against the Taiwanese manufacturer of tires.

The defendant, tire manufacturer, filed a cross complaint against the petitioner Asahi Metal Industry, a Japanese supplier of tire valves.

Some of which were incorporated in the tires manufactured and sold California.

Asahi challenged the jurisdiction of the California States Court asserting its contacts with California were insufficient to provide the minimum context with forum state, which the Due Process Clause of the Federal Constitution requires.

The Supreme Court of California upheld the jurisdiction of the State Court over Asahi.

In an opinion filed today, we reverse that judgment.

All members of the Court agree that the exercise of jurisdiction over the petitioner in the circumstances of this case, fails to comport with fair play and substantial justice.

The court is divided however with regard to other aspects of the analysis.

Justice Brennan has filed an opinion concurring in part in which Justices White, Marshall and Blackmun have joined; Justice Stevens has filed an opinion concurring in part in which Justices White and Blackmun have joined.