Personal Jurisdiction Over the Nonresident: Washington Contributes Shoe and Shute

Mary Lou Johnson, Personal Jurisdiction Over the Nonresident: Washington Contributes Shoe and Shute, 26 Gonz. L. Rev. 243 (1990).


International Shoe Co. v. Washington began a trend to expand state jurisdiction over nonresidents to the limits allowed by due process.The expansion was necessary to provide a convenient forum for residents who, due to advances in transportation and communication, were increasingly involved in both transactions and lawsuits with distant nonresident corporations. Forty-five years later, nationwide corporate marketing and worldwide travel by the public gave rise to a second Washington case, Shute v. Carnival Cruise Lines.’ Shute presses further the due process limitations on jurisdiction and also questions the enforceability of a forum selection clause in a passenger ticket.

Due process limitations on jurisdiction have always been a matter of controversy.  Judge Hale described the conflict as follows: “[t]he long arm of the law reaches far and, thus extended, becomes a force for good. But stretched too far, it may become a powerful instrument of oppression and injustice.”Some believe extension of the long-arm statute to be healthy and natural  and argue that the states must provide their injured residents a remedy against nonresident corporations.” Others object to this stretching of jurisdictional limits as unjust and oppressive, claiming that soon there will be no limitations on the exercise of a state’s jurisdiction.In addition, conflict exists over the enforcement of forum selection clauses.

In February of 1990, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the forum-related activities of a Florida cruise line were sufficient to permit the exercise of personal jurisdiction under Washington’s long-arm statute.The Ninth Circuit found the exercise of specific jurisdiction complied with the requirements of due process because: (1) the defendant corporation had purposefully availed itself of the privilege of conducting activities in Washington; (2) the claim arose out of the defendant’s forum-related activities; and (3) the exercise of jurisdiction was reasonable. 4 The Ninth Circuit also held that the forum selection clause in the passenger ticket was unenforceable. . .

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