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Douglas Brayley Comments on “Personal Jurisdiction” Case Before U.S. Supreme Court

Practices: Appellate & Supreme Court, Employment, Executive Compensation & Employee Benefits

In early November, the U.S. Supreme Court appeared split after hearing oral arguments in the corporate “personal jurisdiction” case, Mallory v. Norfolk Southern Railway. The outcome of this case could have far-reaching implications for employers, as it may impact where a company can be tried.

Employment, executive compensation and employee benefits partner Douglas Brayley discussed the matter in SHRM. “If that Pennsylvania law is upheld, other states might pass similar laws, expanding the scope of general jurisdiction in those states, as well.”

This case was originally filed in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas for claims under the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA) by Virginia resident Robert Mallory, who alleged he was exposed to carcinogens that caused his colon cancer while employed by Virginia-based Norfolk Southern Railway Co. The Virginia railway was registered to do business in Pennsylvania, but it has yet to be determined whether state courts have jurisdiction over out-of-state companies in situations like these.

It is unclear when the court will reach a final decision on the case, but “The Supreme Court… almost always rules on cases in the same term in which they were argued, meaning that we can expect the decision in this case by no later than the end of June,” Douglas said.

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