Vanderbilt Law Review

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This Article accepts the challenge to unify personal jurisdiction theory by proposing an approach that accommodates both the contacts-based and noncontacts-based tests under uniform jurisdictional standards. The analysis builds on the major assumption,elaborated in part II, that the Supreme Court's decision in Insurance Corp. of Ireland v. Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinee removed the principal barrier to a unified theory by ousting governmental interests from their long held place in personal jurisdiction decisions. The principal thesis is that International Shoe has made two general, lasting contributions to jurisdictional theory.First, International Shoe recognized, although less clearly than Ireland, that the goal of due process in personal jurisdiction is to assure a forum that is fair to the parties, including the plaintiff, rather than one that furthers forum state interests or vague notions of state sovereignty. Second, International Shoe implicitly identified two comprehensive standards or criteria--described here as "expectation" and "benefit"-for measuring a forum's fairness to the parties. These broad criteria should replace the opinion's familiar minimum contacts tests as the real "standards" of International Shoe that Shaffer prescribed for universal application. Under this analysis the particularized contacts tests are simply useful, nonexhaustive surrogates for the "expectation" or "benefit" yardsticks that should be the ultimate measures of fairness to the parties.

Part II surveys the current contacts-based and noncontacts-based tests of jurisdiction and describes how those tests serve the two general fairness standards. The "expectation" standard inquires retrospectively whether a reasonable person in the defendant's position should be surprised by having to defend a particular claim in the plaintiff's chosen forum. The "benefit" standard asks whether, apart from the defendant's expectations, the benefit he has derived from his forum-related activities justifies requiring him to defend in the forum any claim--even one wholly unrelated to those activities.

Part III proposes four modifications to the existing contacts tests so that these tests might serve as more reliable indicators of the determinative criteria of expectation and benefit. The first modification is explicit recognition of a plaintiff's due process interest in the jurisdictional question. In virtually all cases, however,the proposed interest is limited to situations in which the plaintiff would have to bring multiple suits if the forum could not assert jurisdiction over all of the defendants. The second suggested modification is assignment of jurisdictional significance to all the defendant's forum contacts, regardless of when he made them. By concentrating on the defendant's "historical" forum contacts, classical contacts analysis has failed to take into account the benefits a defendant has reaped after the events giving rise to litigation;it also has ignored the possible relevance of the defendant's con-duct after the start of litigation to his expectations about place of suit. Third, for certain claims against multiple foreign defendants with similar defenses, contacts analysis should consider whether each defendant needs to appear to protect his interests. The plain-tiff may have to fragment his claim if the forum lacks jurisdiction over any one defendant. To avoid this consequence, the forum should be able to assert jurisdiction even over defendants with no forum contacts, if other defendants actually defending in the forum well represent the absent defendants' interests. Fourth, be-cause the minimum contacts tests are merely indicators of broader fairness criteria, courts should be free to exercise jurisdiction based on a blending of claim-related and nonclaim-related contacts. Thus, independently insufficient claim-related and nonclaim-related contacts, considered together, may warrant jurisdiction under a more fundamental rationale of expectation or benefit.

In part IV this Article evaluates the constitutional validity of eleven particularized noncontacts-based tests under this proposed framework. Only one of these satellite tests clearly is incompatible with the two fairness criteria. The others gain renewed theoretical justification from their consistency with the reformulated contacts tests or with the broader criteria of expectation or benefit.

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