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WHAT WE’RE WATCHING

UNCHAINED – The copyright clash of the titans in Google v. Oracle America may be the main event at today’s telephonic SCOTUS argument session, but there’s a pair of lesser known cases that could potentially be even more impactful for litigators across the country. Whip up some extra guacamole for your listening party and tune in for the arguments in Ford Motor Co. v. Bandemer and Ford Motor Co. v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court, which involve the question of when courts can exercise specific jurisdiction over an out-of-state defendant in suits by injured plaintiffs. Montana and Minnesota plaintiffs sued Ford for alleged defects in cars manufactured and sold out of state but which led to injuries and deaths in the plaintiffs’ states. Those states’ supreme courts, exercising specific jurisdiction, said the suits could proceed. SCOTUS, however, has said previously that courts can exercise specific jurisdiction over an out-of-state defendant only when the claims “arise out of or relate to” the defendant’s in-state activities. The outcome here could change the products liability landscape nationwide by expanding the forums in which these cases can be filed.

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