Facts of the case
The workers and relatives of workers in the Gonzalez-Catan plant of Mercedes Benz Argentina, a wholly owned subsidiary of German-based DaimlerChrysler AG (the company), sued the company for violations of the Torture Victims Protection Act of 1991. They argued that, during Argentina’s Dirty Warof 1976-1983, the company sought to punish plant workers suspected of being union agitators and worked with the Argentinean military and police to do so by passing along information and allowing the plant to be raided. The plaintiffs also argued that the company stood to gain from these actions as they ended strikes and allowed the plant to continue operating at maximum production levels.The plaintiffs sued the company in district court in California, where some of the company’s major subsidiaries are located under the Alien Torts Act, and the company moved for dismissal based on a lack of personal jurisdiction. The district court granted the motion for dismissal and held that the company did not have enough contacts in California to warrant a California court exercising jurisdiction. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed the decision and held that it is reasonable for a California court to have jurisdiction over a multinational company that is capable of litigating the case regardless of the location and has pervasive business contacts in the state.
The corporation’s slim contacts with the state were not so continuous and systematic as to render the corporation essentially at home in the state and subject to suit in the state for claims of the foreign residents for conduct which did not occur in or impact the state. Further, neither the corporation nor the U.S. subsidiary were incorporated or had a principal place of business in the state, which were paradigm bases for general jurisdiction, and the transnational context of the dispute implicated risks to international comity from the broad assertion of general jurisdiction.
- Advocates: Thomas H. Dupree Jr. for the petitioner Edwin S. Kneedler Deputy Solicitor General, Department of Justice, for the United States as amicus curiae, supporting the petitioner Kevin K. Russell for the respondents Kevin Russell on behalf of the respondents
- Petitioner: Daimler AG
- Respondent: Barbara Bauman et al.
- DECIDED BY:Roberts Court
- Location: Gonzalez Catan Plant
|Citation:||571 US 117 (2014)|
|Granted:||Apr 22, 2013|
|Argued:||Oct 15, 2013|
|Decided:||Jan 14, 2014|