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The U.S. Supreme Court building, Washington, D.C. (Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM)

For decades, courts throughout the country have abided by two carefully constructed types of personal jurisdiction for out-of-state defendants: general and specific.

“General” personal jurisdiction permits a court to assert a form of all-encompassing jurisdiction over a defendant, regardless of whether the suit at issue related to the defendant’s contact with the state, so long as the defendant had sufficiently significant contact (usually ones referred to as “continuous and systematic) with the forum. “Specific” personal jurisdiction permits a court to assert a narrower form of jurisdiction over a defendant, even though that defendant did not have “continuous or systematic” contacts with the forum, so long as the lawsuit arose from or related to the defendant’s specific contacts with the forum (or so long as there was a “but-for” relationship between the lawsuit and such contacts.)

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