Justice GINSBURG delivered the opinion of the Court.
This case concerns the authority of a court in the United States to entertain a claim brought by foreign plaintiffs against a foreign defendant based on events occurring entirely outside the United States. The litigation commenced in 2004, when twenty-two Argentinian residents
The question presented is whether the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment precludes the District Court from exercising jurisdiction over Daimler in this case, given the absence of any California connection to the atrocities, perpetrators, or victims described in the complaint. Plaintiffs invoked the court's general or all-purpose jurisdiction. California, they urge, is a place where Daimler may be sued on any and all claims against it, wherever in the world the claims may arise. For example, as plaintiffs' counsel affirmed, under the proffered jurisdictional theory, if a Daimler-manufactured vehicle overturned in Poland, injuring a Polish driver and passenger, the injured parties could maintain a design defect suit in California. See Tr. of Oral Arg. 28-29. Exercises of personal jurisdiction so exorbitant, we hold, are barred by due process constraints on the assertion of adjudicatory authority.
In Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. ___, 131 S.Ct. 2846, 180 L.Ed.2d 796 (2011), we addressed the distinction between general or all-purpose jurisdiction, and specific or conduct-linked jurisdiction. As to the former, we held that a court may assert jurisdiction over a foreign corporation "to hear any and all claims against [it]" only when the corporation's affiliations with the State in which suit is brought are so constant and pervasive "as to render [it] essentially at home in the forum State." Id., at ___, 131 S.Ct., at 2851. Instructed by Goodyear, we conclude Daimler is not "at home" in California, and cannot be sued there for injuries plaintiffs attribute to MB Argentina's conduct in Argentina.
In 2004, plaintiffs (respondents here) filed suit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, alleging that MB Argentina collaborated with Argentinian state security forces to kidnap, detain, torture, and kill plaintiffs and their relatives during the military dictatorship in place there from 1976 through 1983, a period known as Argentina's "Dirty War." Based on those allegations, plaintiffs asserted claims under the Alien Tort Statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1350, and the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991, 106 Stat. 73, note following 28 U.S.C. § 1350, as well as claims for wrongful death and intentional infliction of emotional distress under the laws of California and Argentina. The incidents recounted in the
Plaintiffs' operative complaint names only one corporate defendant: Daimler, the petitioner here. Plaintiffs seek to hold Daimler vicariously liable for MB Argentina's alleged malfeasance. Daimler is a German Aktiengesellschaft (public stock company) that manufactures Mercedes-Benz vehicles in Germany and has its headquarters in Stuttgart. At times relevant to this case, MB Argentina was a subsidiary wholly owned by Daimler's predecessor in interest.
Daimler moved to dismiss the action for want of personal jurisdiction. Opposing the motion, plaintiffs submitted declarations and exhibits purporting to demonstrate the presence of Daimler itself in California. Alternatively, plaintiffs maintained that jurisdiction over Daimler could be founded on the California contacts of MBUSA, a distinct corporate entity that, according to plaintiffs, should be treated as Daimler's agent for jurisdictional purposes.
MBUSA, an indirect subsidiary of Daimler, is a Delaware limited liability corporation.
The relationship between Daimler and MBUSA is delineated in a General Distributor Agreement, which sets forth requirements for MBUSA's distribution of Mercedes-Benz vehicles in the United States. That agreement established MBUSA as an "independent contracto[r]" that "buy[s] and sell[s] [vehicles] ... as an independent business for [its] own account." App. 179a. The agreement "does not make [MBUSA] ... a general or special agent, partner, joint venturer or employee of DAIMLERCHRYSLER or any Daimler-Chrysler Group Company"; MBUSA "ha[s] no authority to make binding obligations for or act on behalf of DAIMLERCHRYSLER or any DaimlerChrysler Group Company." Ibid.
After allowing jurisdictional discovery on plaintiffs' agency allegations, the District Court granted Daimler's motion to dismiss. Daimler's own affiliations with California, the court first determined, were insufficient to support the exercise of all-purpose jurisdiction over the corporation. Bauman v. DaimlerChrysler AG, No. C-04-00194 RMW (N.D.Cal., Nov. 22, 2005), App. to Pet. for Cert. 111a-112a, 2005 WL 3157472, *9-*10. Next, the court declined to attribute MBUSA's California contacts to Daimler on an agency theory, concluding that plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that MBUSA acted as Daimler's agent. Id., at 117a, 133a, 2005 WL 3157472, *12, *19; Bauman v. DaimlerChrysler AG, No.
The Ninth Circuit at first affirmed the District Court's judgment. Addressing solely the question of agency, the Court of Appeals held that plaintiffs had not shown the existence of an agency relationship of the kind that might warrant attribution of MBUSA's contacts to Daimler. Bauman v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., 579 F.3d 1088, 1096-1097 (2009). Judge Reinhardt dissented. In his view, the agency test was satisfied and considerations of "reasonableness" did not bar the exercise of jurisdiction. Id., at 1098-1106. Granting plaintiffs' petition for rehearing, the panel withdrew its initial opinion and replaced it with one authored by Judge Reinhardt, which elaborated on reasoning he initially expressed in dissent. Bauman v. Daimler-Chrysler Corp., 644 F.3d 909 (C.A.9 2011).
Daimler petitioned for rehearing and rehearing en banc, urging that the exercise of personal jurisdiction over Daimler could not be reconciled with this Court's decision in Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. ___, 131 S.Ct. 2846, 180 L.Ed.2d 796 (2011). Over the dissent of eight judges, the Ninth Circuit denied Daimler's petition. See Bauman v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., 676 F.3d 774 (2011) (O'Scannlain, J., dissenting from denial of rehearing en banc).
We granted certiorari to decide whether, consistent with the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, Daimler is amenable to suit in California courts for claims involving only foreign plaintiffs and conduct occurring entirely abroad. 569 U.S. ___, 133 S.Ct. 1995, 185 L.Ed.2d 865 (2013).
Federal courts ordinarily follow state law in determining the bounds of their jurisdiction over persons. See Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 4(k)(1)(A) (service of process is effective to establish personal jurisdiction over a defendant "who is subject to the jurisdiction of a court of general jurisdiction in the state where the district court is located"). Under California's long-arm statute, California state courts may exercise personal jurisdiction "on any basis not inconsistent with the Constitution of this state or of the United States." Cal. Civ. Proc. Code Ann. § 410.10 (West 2004). California's long-arm statute allows the exercise of personal jurisdiction to the full extent permissible under the U.S. Constitution. We therefore inquire whether the Ninth Circuit's holding comports with the limits imposed by federal due process. See, e.g., Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 464, 105 S.Ct. 2174, 85 L.Ed.2d 528 (1985).
In Pennoyer v. Neff, 95 U.S. 714, 24 S.Ct. 565 (1878), decided shortly after the enactment of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Court held that a tribunal's jurisdiction over persons reaches no farther than the geographic bounds of the forum. See id., at 720 ("The authority of every tribunal is necessarily restricted by the territorial limits of the State in which it is established."). See also Shaffer v. Heitner, 433 U.S. 186, 197, 97 S.Ct. 2569, 53 L.Ed.2d 683 (1977) (Under Pennoyer, "any attempt `directly' to assert extraterritorial jurisdiction over persons or property would offend sister States and exceed the inherent limits of the State's power."). In time, however, that strict territorial approach yielded to a less rigid understanding, spurred by "changes in the technology of transportation and communication, and the tremendous growth of interstate business activity." Burnham v. Superior Court of Cal.,
"The canonical opinion in this area remains International Shoe [Co. v. Washington], 326 U.S. 310 [66 S.Ct. 154, 90 S.Ct. 95 (1945)], in which we held that a State may authorize its courts to exercise personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state defendant if the defendant has `certain minimum contacts with [the State] such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend "traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice."'" Goodyear, 564 U.S., at ___, 131 S.Ct., at 2853 (quoting International Shoe, 326 U.S., at 316, 66 S.Ct. 154). Following International Shoe, "the relationship among the defendant, the forum, and the litigation, rather than the mutually exclusive sovereignty of the States on which the rules of Pennoyer rest, became the central concern of the inquiry into personal jurisdiction." Shaffer, 433 U.S., at 204, 97 S.Ct. 2569.
International Shoe's conception of "fair play and substantial justice" presaged the development of two categories of personal jurisdiction. The first category is represented by International Shoe itself, a case in which the in-state activities of the corporate defendant "ha[d] not only been continuous and systematic, but also g[a]ve rise to the liabilities sued on." 326 U.S., at 317, 66 S.Ct. 154.
International Shoe distinguished between, on the one hand, exercises of specific jurisdiction, as just described, and on the other, situations where a foreign corporation's "continuous corporate operations within a state [are] so substantial and of such a nature as to justify suit against it on causes of action arising from dealings entirely distinct from those activities." 326 U.S., at 318, 66 S.Ct. 154. As we have since explained, "[a] court may assert general jurisdiction over foreign (sister-state or foreign-country) corporations to hear any and all claims against them when their affiliations with the State are so `continuous and systematic' as to render them essentially at home in the forum State." Goodyear, 564 U.S., at ___, 131 S.Ct., at 2851; see id., at ___, 131 S.Ct., at 2853-2854; Helicopteros, 466 U.S., at 414, n. 9, 104 S.Ct. 1868.
Our post-International Shoe opinions on general jurisdiction, by comparison, are few. "[The Court's] 1952 decision in Perkins v. Benguet Consol. Mining Co. remains the textbook case of general jurisdiction
The next case on point, Helicopteros, 466 U.S. 408, 104 S.Ct. 1868, 80 L.Ed.2d 404, arose from a helicopter crash in Peru. Four U.S. citizens perished in that accident; their survivors and representatives brought suit in Texas state court against the helicopter's owner and operator, a Colombian corporation. That company's contacts with Texas were confined to "sending its chief executive officer to Houston for a
Most recently, in Goodyear, we answered the question: "Are foreign subsidiaries of a United States parent corporation amenable to suit in state court on claims unrelated to any activity of the subsidiaries in the forum State?" 564 U.S., at ___, 131 S.Ct. at 2850. That case arose from a bus accident outside Paris that killed two boys from North Carolina. The boys' parents brought a wrongful-death suit in North Carolina state court alleging that the bus's tire was defectively manufactured. The complaint named as defendants not only The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company (Goodyear), an Ohio corporation, but also Goodyear's Turkish, French, and Luxembourgian subsidiaries. Those foreign subsidiaries, which manufactured tires for sale in Europe and Asia, lacked any affiliation with North Carolina. A small percentage of tires manufactured by the foreign subsidiaries were distributed in North Carolina, however, and on that ground, the North Carolina Court of Appeals held the subsidiaries amenable to the general jurisdiction of North Carolina courts.
We reversed, observing that the North Carolina court's analysis "elided the essential difference between case-specific and all-purpose (general) jurisdiction." Id., at ___, 131 S.Ct., at 2855. Although the placement of a product into the stream of commerce "may bolster an affiliation germane to specific jurisdiction," we explained, such contacts "do not warrant a determination that, based on those ties, the forum has general jurisdiction over a defendant." Id., at ___, 131 S.Ct., at 2857. As International Shoe itself teaches, a corporation's "continuous activity of some sorts within a state is not enough to support the demand that the corporation be amenable to suits unrelated to that activity." 326 U.S., at 318, 66 S.Ct. 154. Because Goodyear's foreign subsidiaries were "in no sense at home in North Carolina," we held, those subsidiaries could not be required to submit to the general jurisdiction of that State's courts. 564 U.S., at ___, 131 S.Ct., at 2857. See also J. McIntyre Machinery, Ltd. v. Nicastro, 564 U.S. ___, ___, 131 S.Ct. 2780, 2797-2798, 180 L.Ed.2d 765 (2011) (GINSBURG, J., dissenting) (noting unanimous agreement that a foreign manufacturer, which engaged an independent U.S.-based distributor to sell its machines throughout the United States, could not be exposed to all-purpose jurisdiction in New Jersey courts based on those contacts).
As is evident from Perkins, Helicopteros, and Goodyear, general and specific jurisdiction have followed markedly different trajectories post-International Shoe. Specific jurisdiction has been cut loose from Pennoyer's sway, but we have declined to stretch general jurisdiction beyond
With this background, we turn directly to the question whether Daimler's affiliations with California are sufficient to subject it to the general (all-purpose) personal jurisdiction of that State's courts. In the proceedings below, the parties agreed on, or failed to contest, certain points we now take as given. Plaintiffs have never attempted to fit this case into the specific jurisdiction category. Nor did plaintiffs challenge on appeal the District Court's holding that Daimler's own contacts with California were, by themselves, too sporadic to justify the exercise of general jurisdiction. While plaintiffs ultimately persuaded the Ninth Circuit to impute MBUSA's California contacts to Daimler on an agency theory, at no point have they maintained that MBUSA is an alter ego of Daimler.
Daimler, on the other hand, failed to object below to plaintiffs' assertion that the California courts could exercise all-purpose jurisdiction over MBUSA.
In sustaining the exercise of general jurisdiction over Daimler, the Ninth Circuit relied on an agency theory, determining that MBUSA acted as Daimler's agent for jurisdictional purposes and then
This Court has not yet addressed whether a foreign corporation may be subjected to a court's general jurisdiction based on the contacts of its in-state subsidiary. Daimler argues, and several Courts of Appeals have held, that a subsidiary's jurisdictional contacts can be imputed to its parent only when the former is so dominated by the latter as to be its alter ego. The Ninth Circuit adopted a less rigorous test based on what it described as an "agency" relationship. Agencies, we note, come in many sizes and shapes: "One may be an agent for some business purposes and not others so that the fact that one may be an agent for one purpose does not make him or her an agent for every purpose." 2A C. J. S., Agency § 43, p. 367 (2013) (footnote omitted).
The Ninth Circuit's agency finding rested primarily on its observation that MBUSA's services were "important" to Daimler, as gauged by Daimler's hypothetical readiness to perform those services itself if MBUSA did not exist. Formulated this way, the inquiry into importance stacks the deck, for it will always yield a pro-jurisdiction answer: "Anything a corporation does through an independent contractor, subsidiary, or distributor is presumably something that the corporation would do `by other means' if the independent contractor, subsidiary, or distributor did not exist." 676 F.3d, at 777 (O'Scannlain, J., dissenting from denial of rehearing en banc).
Even if we were to assume that MBUSA is at home in California, and further to assume MBUSA's contacts are imputable to Daimler, there would still be no basis to subject Daimler to general jurisdiction in California, for Daimler's slim contacts with the State hardly render it at home there.
Goodyear made clear that only a limited set of affiliations with a forum will render a defendant amenable to all-purpose jurisdiction there. "For an individual, the paradigm forum for the exercise of general jurisdiction is the individual's domicile; for a corporation, it is an equivalent place, one in which the corporation is fairly regarded as at home." 564 U.S., at ___, 131 S.Ct., at 2853-2854 (citing Brilmayer et al., A General Look at General Jurisdiction, 66 Texas L.Rev. 721, 728 (1988)). With respect to a corporation, the place of incorporation and principal place of business are "paradig[m] ... bases for general jurisdiction." Id., at 735. See also Twitchell, 101 Harv. L.Rev., at 633. Those affiliations have the virtue of being unique — that is, each ordinarily indicates only one place — as well as easily ascertainable. Cf. Hertz Corp. v. Friend, 559 U.S. 77, 94, 130 S.Ct. 1181, 175 L.Ed.2d 1029 (2010) ("Simple jurisdictional rules ... promote greater predictability."). These bases afford plaintiffs recourse to at least one clear and certain forum in which a corporate defendant may be sued on any and all claims.
Goodyear did not hold that a corporation may be subject to general jurisdiction only in a forum where it is incorporated or has its principal place of business; it simply typed those places paradigm all-purpose forums. Plaintiffs would have us look beyond the exemplar bases Goodyear identified,
As noted, see supra, at 753-754, the words "continuous and systematic" were used in International Shoe to describe instances in which the exercise of specific jurisdiction would be appropriate. See 326 U.S., at 317, 66 S.Ct. 154 (jurisdiction can be asserted where a corporation's in-state activities are not only "continuous and systematic, but also give rise to the liabilities sued on").
Here, neither Daimler nor MBUSA is incorporated in California, nor does either entity have its principal place of business there. If Daimler's California activities sufficed to allow adjudication of this Argentina-rooted case in California, the same global reach would presumably be available in every other State in which MBUSA's sales are sizable. Such exorbitant exercises of all-purpose jurisdiction would
It was therefore error for the Ninth Circuit to conclude that Daimler, even with MBUSA's contacts attributed to it, was at home in California, and hence subject to suit there on claims by foreign plaintiffs having nothing to do with anything that occurred or had its principal impact in California.
Finally, the transnational context of this dispute bears attention. The Court of Appeals emphasized, as supportive of the exercise of general jurisdiction, plaintiffs' assertion of claims under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), 28 U.S.C. § 1350, and the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991 (TVPA), 106 Stat. 73, note following 28 U.S.C. § 1350. See 644 F.3d, at 927 ("American federal courts, be they in California or any other state, have a strong interest in adjudicating and redressing international human rights abuses."). Recent decisions of this Court, however, have
The Ninth Circuit, moreover, paid little heed to the risks to international comity its expansive view of general jurisdiction posed. Other nations do not share the uninhibited approach to personal jurisdiction advanced by the Court of Appeals in this case. In the European Union, for example, a corporation may generally be sued in the nation in which it is "domiciled," a term defined to refer only to the location of the corporation's "statutory seat," "central administration," or "principal place of business." European Parliament and Council Reg. 1215/2012, Arts. 4(1), and 63(1), 2012 O.J. (L. 351) 7, 18. See also id., Art. 7(5), 2012 O.J. 7 (as to "a dispute arising out of the operations of a branch, agency or other establishment," a corporation may be sued "in the courts for the place where the branch, agency or other establishment is situated" (emphasis added)). The Solicitor General informs us, in this regard, that "foreign governments' objections to some domestic courts' expansive views of general jurisdiction have in the past impeded negotiations of international agreements on the reciprocal recognition and enforcement of judgments." U.S. Brief 2 (citing Juenger, The American Law of General Jurisdiction, 2001 U. Chi. Legal Forum 141, 161-162). See also U.S. Brief 2 (expressing concern that unpredictable applications of general jurisdiction based on activities of U.S.-based subsidiaries could discourage foreign investors); Brief for Respondents 35 (acknowledging that "doing business" basis for general jurisdiction has led to "international friction"). Considerations of international rapport thus reinforce our determination that subjecting Daimler to the general jurisdiction of courts in California would not accord with the "fair play and substantial justice" due process demands. International Shoe, 326 U.S., at 316, 66 S.Ct. 154 (quoting Milliken v. Meyer, 311 U.S. 457, 463, 61 S.Ct. 339, 85 S.Ct. 278 (1940)).
* * *
For the reasons stated, the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is
Justice SOTOMAYOR, concurring in the judgment.
I agree with the Court's conclusion that the Due Process Clause prohibits the exercise of personal jurisdiction over Daimler in light of the unique circumstances of this case. I concur only in the judgment, however, because I cannot agree with the path the Court takes to arrive at that result.
The Court acknowledges that Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC (MBUSA), Daimler's wholly owned subsidiary, has considerable contacts with California. It has multiple facilities in the State, including a regional headquarters. Each year, it distributes in California tens of thousands of cars, the sale of which generated billions of dollars in the year this suit was brought. And it provides service and sales support to customers throughout the State. Daimler has conceded that California courts may exercise general jurisdiction over MBUSA on the basis of these contacts, and the Court assumes that MBUSA's contacts may be attributed to Daimler for the purpose of deciding whether Daimler is also subject to general jurisdiction.
Are these contacts sufficient to permit the exercise of general jurisdiction over
The Court's conclusion is wrong as a matter of both process and substance. As to process, the Court decides this case on a ground that was neither argued nor passed on below, and that Daimler raised for the first time in a footnote to its brief. Brief for Petitioner 31-32, n. 5. As to substance, the Court's focus on Daimler's operations outside of California ignores the lodestar of our personal jurisdiction jurisprudence: A State may subject a defendant to the burden of suit if the defendant has sufficiently taken advantage of the State's laws and protections through its contacts in the State; whether the defendant has contacts elsewhere is immaterial.
Regrettably, these errors are unforced. The Court can and should decide this case on the far simpler ground that, no matter how extensive Daimler's contacts with California, that State's exercise of jurisdiction would be unreasonable given that the case involves foreign plaintiffs suing a foreign defendant based on foreign conduct, and given that a more appropriate forum is available. Because I would reverse the judgment below on this ground, I concur in the judgment only.
I begin with the point on which the majority and I agree: The Ninth Circuit's decision should be reversed.
Our personal jurisdiction precedents call for a two-part analysis. The contacts prong asks whether the defendant has sufficient contacts with the forum State to support personal jurisdiction; the reasonableness prong asks whether the exercise of jurisdiction would be unreasonable under the circumstances. Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 475-478, 105 S.Ct. 2174, 85 L.Ed.2d 528 (1985). As the majority points out, all of the cases in which we have applied the reasonableness prong have involved specific as opposed to general jurisdiction. Ante, at 762, n. 20. Whether the reasonableness prong should apply in the general jurisdiction context is therefore a question we have never decided,
We identified the factors that bear on reasonableness in Asahi Metal Industry Co. v. Superior Court of Cal., Solano Cty., 480 U.S. 102, 107 S.Ct. 1026, 94 L.Ed.2d 92 (1987): "the burden on the defendant, the interests of the forum State," "the plaintiff's interest in obtaining relief" in the forum State, and the interests of other sovereigns in resolving the dispute. Id., at 113-114, 107 S.Ct. 1026. We held in Asahi that it would be "unreasonable and unfair" for a California court to exercise jurisdiction over a claim between a Taiwanese plaintiff and a Japanese defendant that arose out of a transaction in Taiwan, particularly where the Taiwanese plaintiff had not shown that it would be more convenient to litigate in California than in Taiwan or Japan. Id., at 114, 107 S.Ct. 1026.
The same considerations resolve this case. It involves Argentine plaintiffs suing a German defendant for conduct that took place in Argentina. Like the plaintiffs in Asahi, respondents have failed to show that it would be more convenient to litigate in California than in Germany, a sovereign with a far greater interest in resolving the dispute. Asahi thus makes clear that it would be unreasonable for a court in California to subject Daimler to its jurisdiction.
The majority evidently agrees that, if the reasonableness prong were to apply, it would be unreasonable for California courts to exercise jurisdiction over Daimler in this case. See ante, at 761-762 (noting that it would be "exorbitant" for California courts to exercise general jurisdiction over Daimler, a German defendant, in this "Argentina-rooted case" brought by "foreign plaintiffs"). But instead of resolving the case on this uncontroversial basis, the majority reaches out to decide it on a ground neither argued nor decided below.
The majority's decision is troubling all the more because the parties were not asked to brief this issue. We granted certiorari on the question "whether it violates due process for a court to exercise general personal jurisdiction over a foreign corporation based solely on the fact that an indirect corporate subsidiary performs services on behalf of the defendant in the forum State." Pet. for Cert. i. At no point in Daimler's petition for certiorari did the company contend that, even if this attribution question were decided against it, its contacts in California would still be insufficient to support general jurisdiction. The parties' merits briefs accordingly focused on the attribution-of-contacts question, addressing the reasonableness inquiry (which had been litigated and decided below) in most of the space that remained. See Brief for Petitioner 17-37, 37-43; Brief for Respondents 18-47, 47-59.
In bypassing the question on which we granted certiorari to decide an issue not litigated below, the Court leaves respondents "without an unclouded opportunity to air the issue the Court today decides against them," Comcast Corp. v. Behrend, 569 U.S. ___, ___, 133 S.Ct. 1426, 1436, 185 L.Ed.2d 515 (2013) (GINSBURG and BREYER, JJ., dissenting). Doing so "does `not reflect well on the processes of the Court.'" Ibid. (quoting Redrup v. New York, 386 U.S. 767, 772, 87 S.Ct. 1414, 18 L.Ed.2d 515 (1967) (Harlan, J., dissenting)). "And by resolving a complex and fact-intensive question without the benefit of full briefing, the Court invites the error into which it has fallen." 569 U.S., at ___, 133 S.Ct., at 1436.
The relevant facts are undeveloped because Daimler conceded at the start of this litigation that MBUSA is subject to general jurisdiction based on its California contacts. We therefore do not know the full extent of those contacts, though what little we do know suggests that Daimler was wise to concede what it did. MBUSA imports more than 200,000 vehicles into the United States and distributes many of them to independent dealerships in California, where they are sold. Declaration of Dr. Peter Waskönig in Bauman v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., No. 04-00194-RMW (N.D.Cal.), ¶ 10, p. 2. MBUSA's California sales account for 2.4% of Daimler's worldwide sales, which were $192 billion in
But the record does not answer a number of other important questions. Are any of Daimler's key files maintained in MBUSA's California offices? How many employees work in those offices? Do those employees make important strategic decisions or oversee in any manner Daimler's activities? These questions could well affect whether Daimler is subject to general jurisdiction. After all, this Court upheld the exercise of general jurisdiction in Perkins v. Benguet Consol. Mining Co., 342 U.S. 437, 447-448, 72 S.Ct. 413, 96 S.Ct. 485 (1952) — which the majority refers to as a "textbook case" of general jurisdiction, ante, at 755-756 — on the basis that the foreign defendant maintained an office in Ohio, kept corporate files there, and oversaw the company's activities from the State. California-based MBUSA employees may well have done similar things on Daimler's behalf.
While the majority's decisional process is problematic enough, I fear that process leads it to an even more troubling result.
Until today, our precedents had established a straightforward test for general jurisdiction: Does the defendant have "continuous corporate operations within a state" that are "so substantial and of such a nature as to justify suit against it on causes of action arising from dealings entirely distinct from those activities"? International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 318, 66 S.Ct. 154, 90 S.Ct. 95 (1945); see also Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 416, 104 S.Ct. 1868, 80 L.Ed.2d 404 (1984) (asking whether defendant had "continuous and systematic general business contacts").
In Perkins, for example, we found an Ohio court's exercise of general jurisdiction
We engaged in the same inquiry in Helicopteros. There, we held that a Colombian corporation was not subject to general jurisdiction in Texas simply because it occasionally sent its employees into the State, accepted checks drawn on a Texas bank, and purchased equipment and services from a Texas company. In no sense did our analysis turn on the extent of the company's operations beyond Texas.
Most recently, in Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. ___, 131 S.Ct. 2846, 180 L.Ed.2d 796 (2011), our analysis again focused on the defendant's in-state contacts. Goodyear involved a suit against foreign tire manufacturers by North Carolina residents whose children had died in a bus accident in France. We held that North Carolina courts could not exercise general jurisdiction over the foreign defendants. Just as in Perkins and Helicopteros, our opinion in Goodyear did not identify the defendants' contacts outside of the forum State, but focused instead on the defendants' lack of offices, employees, direct sales, and business operations within the State.
This approach follows from the touchstone principle of due process in this field, the concept of reciprocal fairness. When a corporation chooses to invoke the benefits and protections of a State in which it operates, the State acquires the authority to subject the company to suit in its courts. See International Shoe, 326 U.S., at 319, 66 S.Ct. 154 ("[T]o the extent that a corporation exercises the privilege of conducting activities within a state, it enjoys the benefits and protection of the laws of that state" such that an "obligatio[n] arise[s]" to respond there to suit); J. McIntyre Machinery, Ltd. v. Nicastro, 564 U.S. ___, ___, 131 S.Ct. 2780, 2796-2797, 180 L.Ed.2d 765 (2011) (plurality opinion) (same principle for general jurisdiction). The majority's focus on the extent of a corporate defendant's out-of-forum contacts is untethered from this rationale. After all, the degree to which a company
Had the majority applied our settled approach, it would have had little trouble concluding that Daimler's California contacts rise to the requisite level, given the majority's assumption that MBUSA's contacts may be attributed to Daimler and given Daimler's concession that those contacts render MBUSA "at home" in California. Our cases have long stated the rule that a defendant's contacts with a forum State must be continuous, substantial, and systematic in order for the defendant to be subject to that State's general jurisdiction. See Perkins, 342 U.S., at 446, 72 S.Ct. 413. We offered additional guidance in Goodyear, adding the phrase "essentially at home" to our prior formulation of the rule. 564 U.S., at ___, 131 S.Ct. at 2851 (a State may exercise general jurisdiction where a defendant's "affiliations with the State are so `continuous and systematic' as to render [the defendant] essentially at home in the forum State"). We used the phrase "at home" to signify that in order for an out-of-state defendant to be subject to general jurisdiction, its continuous and substantial contacts with a forum State must be akin to those of a local enterprise that actually is "at home" in the State. See Brilmayer, supra, at 742.
The majority today concludes otherwise. Referring to the "continuous and systematic" contacts inquiry that has been taught to generations of first-year law students as "unacceptably grasping," ante, at 760, the majority announces the new rule that in order for a foreign defendant to be subject to general jurisdiction, it must not only possess continuous and systematic contacts with a forum State, but those contacts must also surpass some unspecified level when viewed in comparison to the company's "nationwide and worldwide" activities. Ante, at 762, n. 20.
Neither of the majority's two rationales for this proportionality requirement is persuasive. First, the majority suggests that its approach is necessary for the sake of predictability. Permitting general jurisdiction in every State where a corporation has continuous and substantial contacts, the majority asserts, would "scarcely permit out-of-state defendants `to structure their primary conduct with some minimum assurance as to where that conduct will and will not render them liable to suit.'" Ante, at 762 (quoting Burger King Corp., 471 U.S., at 472, 105 S.Ct. 2174). But there is nothing unpredictable about a rule that instructs multinational corporations that if they engage in continuous and substantial contacts with more than one State, they will be subject to general jurisdiction in each one. The majority may not favor that rule as a matter of policy, but such disagreement does not render an otherwise routine test unpredictable.
Nor is the majority's proportionality inquiry any more predictable than the approach it rejects. If anything, the majority's approach injects an additional layer of uncertainty because a corporate defendant must now try to foretell a court's analysis as to both the sufficiency of its contacts with the forum State itself, as well as the relative sufficiency of those contacts in light of the company's operations elsewhere. Moreover, the majority does not even try to explain just how extensive the company's in-state contacts must be in the context of its global operations in order for general jurisdiction to be proper.
The majority's approach will also lead to greater unpredictability by radically expanding the scope of jurisdictional discovery.
Absent the predictability rationale, the majority's sole remaining justification for its proportionality approach is its unadorned concern for the consequences. "If Daimler's California activities sufficed to allow adjudication of this Argentina-rooted case in California," the majority laments, "the same global reach would presumably be available in every other State in which MBUSA's sales are sizable." Ante, at 761.
The majority characterizes this result as "exorbitant," ibid., but in reality it is an inevitable consequence of the rule of due process we set forth nearly 70 years ago, that there are "instances in which [a company's] continuous corporate operations within a state" are "so substantial and of such a nature as to justify suit against it on causes of action arising from dealings entirely distinct from those activities," International Shoe, 326 U.S., at 318, 66 S.Ct. 154. In the era of International Shoe, it was rare for a corporation to have such substantial nationwide contacts that it would be subject to general jurisdiction in a large number of States. Today, that circumstance is less rare. But that is as it should be. What has changed since International Shoe is not the due process principle of fundamental fairness but rather the nature of the global economy. Just as it was fair to say in the 1940's that an out-of-state company could enjoy the benefits of a forum State enough to make it "essentially at home" in the State, it is fair to say today that a multinational conglomerate can enjoy such extensive benefits in multiple forum States that it is "essentially at home" in each one.
In any event, to the extent the majority is concerned with the modern-day consequences of International Shoe's conception of personal jurisdiction, there remain other judicial doctrines available to mitigate any resulting unfairness to large corporate defendants. Here, for instance, the reasonableness prong may afford petitioner relief. See supra, at 764-765. In other cases, a defendant can assert the doctrine of forum non conveniens if a given State is a highly inconvenient place to litigate a dispute. See Gulf Oil Corp. v. Gilbert, 330 U.S. 501, 508-509, 67 S.Ct. 839, 91 S.Ct. 1055 (1947). In still other cases, the federal change of venue statute can provide protection. See 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) (permitting transfers to other districts "[f]or the convenience of parties and witnesses" and "in the interests of justice"). And to the degree that the majority worries these doctrines are not enough to protect the economic interests of multinational businesses (or that our longstanding approach to general jurisdiction poses "risks to international comity," ante, at 762), the task of weighing those policy concerns belongs ultimately to legislators, who may amend state and federal long-arm statutes in accordance with the democratic process. Unfortunately, the majority short circuits that process by enshrining today's narrow rule of general jurisdiction as a matter of constitutional law.
The majority's concern for the consequences of its decision should have led it
First, the majority's approach unduly curtails the States' sovereign authority to adjudicate disputes against corporate defendants who have engaged in continuous and substantial business operations within their boundaries.
Second, the proportionality approach will treat small businesses unfairly in comparison to national and multinational conglomerates. Whereas a larger company will often be immunized from general jurisdiction in a State on account of its extensive contacts outside the forum, a small business will not be. For instance, the majority holds today that Daimler is not subject to general jurisdiction in California despite its multiple offices, continuous operations, and billions of dollars' worth of sales there. But imagine a small business that manufactures luxury vehicles principally targeting the California market and that has substantially all of its sales and operations in the State — even though those sales and operations may amount to one-thousandth of Daimler's. Under the majority's rule, that small business will be subject to suit in California on any cause of action involving any of its activities anywhere in the world, while its far more pervasive competitor, Daimler, will not be. That will be so even if the small business incorporates and sets up its headquarters elsewhere (as Daimler does), since the small business' California sales and operations would still predominate when "apprais[ed]" in proportion to its minimal "nationwide and worldwide" operations, ante, at 762, n. 20.
Third, the majority's approach creates the incongruous result that an individual defendant whose only contact with a forum State is a one-time visit will be subject to general jurisdiction if served with process during that visit, Burnham v. Superior Court of Cal., County of Marin, 495 U.S. 604,
Finally, it should be obvious that the ultimate effect of the majority's approach will be to shift the risk of loss from multinational corporations to the individuals harmed by their actions. Under the majority's rule, for example, a parent whose child is maimed due to the negligence of a foreign hotel owned by a multinational conglomerate will be unable to hold the hotel to account in a single U.S. court, even if the hotel company has a massive presence in multiple States. See, e.g., Meier v. Sun Int'l Hotels, Ltd., 288 F.3d 1264 (C.A.11 2002).
* * *
The Court rules against respondents today on a ground that no court has considered in the history of this case, that this Court did not grant certiorari to decide, and that Daimler raised only in a footnote of its brief. In doing so, the Court adopts a new rule of constitutional law that is unmoored from decades of precedent. Because I would reverse the Ninth Circuit's decision on the narrower ground that the exercise of jurisdiction over Daimler would be unreasonable in any event, I respectfully concur in the judgment only.
Justice SOTOMAYOR emphasizes Perkins' statement that Benguet's Ohio contacts, while "continuous and systematic," were but a "limited ... part of its general business." 342 U.S., at 438, 72 S.Ct. 413. Describing the company's "wartime activities" as "necessarily limited," id., at 448, 72 S.Ct. 413, however, this Court had in mind the diminution in operations resulting from the Japanese occupation and the ensuing shutdown of the company's Philippine mines. No fair reader of the full opinion in Perkins could conclude that the Court meant to convey anything other than that Ohio was the center of the corporation's wartime activities. But cf. post, at 768 ("If anything, [Perkins] intimated that the defendant's Ohio contacts were not substantial in comparison to its contacts elsewhere.").
Justice SOTOMAYOR would reach the same result, but for a different reason. Rather than concluding that Daimler is not at home in California, Justice SOTOMAYOR would hold that the exercise of general jurisdiction over Daimler would be unreasonable "in the unique circumstances of this case." Post, at 763. In other words, she favors a resolution fit for this day and case only. True, a multipronged reasonableness check was articulated in Asahi, 480 U.S., at 113-114, 107 S.Ct. 1026, but not as a free-floating test. Instead, the check was to be essayed when specific jurisdiction is at issue. See also Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 476-478, 105 S.Ct. 2174, 85 L.Ed.2d 528 (1985). First, a court is to determine whether the connection between the forum and the episode-in-suit could justify the exercise of specific jurisdiction. Then, in a second step, the court is to consider several additional factors to assess the reasonableness of entertaining the case. When a corporation is genuinely at home in the forum State, however, any second-step inquiry would be superfluous.
Justice SOTOMAYOR fears that our holding will "lead to greater unpredictability by radically expanding the scope of jurisdictional discovery." Post, at 770-771. But it is hard to see why much in the way of discovery would be needed to determine where a corporation is at home. Justice SOTOMAYOR's proposal to import Asahi's "reasonableness" check into the general jurisdiction determination, on the other hand, would indeed compound the jurisdictional inquiry. The reasonableness factors identified in Asahi include "the burden on the defendant," "the interests of the forum State," "the plaintiff's interest in obtaining relief," "the interstate judicial system's interest in obtaining the most efficient resolution of controversies," "the shared interest of the several States in furthering fundamental substantive social policies," and, in the international context, "the procedural and substantive policies of other nations whose interests are affected by the assertion of jurisdiction." 480 U.S., at 113-115, 107 S.Ct. 1026 (some internal quotation marks omitted). Imposing such a checklist in cases of general jurisdiction would hardly promote the efficient disposition of an issue that should be resolved expeditiously at the outset of litigation.
The majority apparently thinks that the Philippine corporate defendant in Perkins did not have meaningful operations in places other than Ohio. See ante, at 755-756, and n. 8. But one cannot get past the second sentence of Perkins before realizing that is wrong. That sentence reads: "The corporation has been carrying on in Ohio a continuous and systematic, but limited, part of its general business." 342 U.S., at 438, 72 S.Ct. 413. Indeed, the facts of the case set forth by the Ohio Court of Appeals show just how "limited" the company's Ohio contacts — which included a single officer keeping files and managing affairs from his Ohio home office — were in comparison with its "general business" operations elsewhere. By the time the suit was commenced, the company had resumed its considerable mining operations in the Philippines, "`rebuilding its properties'" there and purchasing "`machinery, supplies and equipment.'" 88 Ohio App., at 123-124, 95 N.E.2d, at 8. Moreover, the company employed key managers in other forums, including a purchasing agent in San Francisco and a chief of staff in the Philippines. Id., at 124, 95 N.E.2d, at 8. The San Francisco purchasing agent negotiated the purchase of the company's machinery and supplies "`on the direction of the Company's Chief of Staff in Manila,'" ibid., a fact that squarely refutes the majority's assertion that "[a]ll of Benguet's activities were directed by the company's president from within Ohio," ante, at 756, n. 8. And the vast majority of the company's board of directors meetings took place outside Ohio, in locations such as Washington, New York, and San Francisco. 88 Ohio App., at 125, 95 N.E.2d, at 8.
In light of these facts, it is all but impossible to reconcile the result in Perkins with the proportionality test the majority announces today. Goodyear's use of the phrase "at home" is thus better understood to require the same general jurisdiction inquiry that Perkins required: An out-of-state business must have the kind of continuous and substantial in-state presence that a parallel local company would have.