Personal Jurisdiction over Maritime Defendants: Daimler, Walden, and Rule 4(k)(2)

Laura Beck Knoll | Article

The United States Supreme Court’s recent decisions in two nonmaritime cases, Daimler AG v. Bauman and the unanimous Walden v. Fiore, have seriously limited a court’s ability to exercise personal jurisdiction over foreign and domestic maritime defendants. The reasons rest in the inherent nature of maritime business as interstate and interstate and international and the dominance or foreign entities in maritime industries. This Article will discuss the effect of these cases on maritime defendants ranging from foreign and domestic vessel and cargo owners to stevedores and Caribbean tour operators. First, it reviews the principles of personal jurisdiction. Second, it analyzes general jurisdiction after Daimler and illustrates how incredibly difficult it will be plaintiffs to obtain general jurisdiction over maritime defendants not incorporated or headquartered in the forum. Third, it analyzes the centerpiece of modern jurisdictional theory-state long-arm statutes and specific personal jurisdiction after Walden-forecasting that the emphasis placed on a defendant-focused purposeful availment analysis will require courts to establish a test for determining whether forum contacts are case-linked. Finally, this Article predicts that these limitations will also restrict plaintiff’s ability to establish jurisdiction on a national contacts basis under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(k)(2).