794 IOWA LAW REVIEW [Vol. 104:793
In 1945, the United States Supreme Court revolutionized personal
jurisdiction with its decision in International Shoe Co. v. Washington.1 Dispensing
with the rigid constraints that had governed for roughly 70 years,2 the Court
embraced a new vision of the adjudicatory authority of states rooted in the
now-familiar concept of “minimum contacts.”3 Now, roughly 70 years after
International Shoe, a second personal jurisdiction revolution is underway. This
current revolution is softer than the first—no longstanding precedent has
been overturned, and the Court has instead strained to frame its decisions as
mere extensions of established principles.4 But revolutions take many forms,
and as Part II of this Article explains, there can be little doubt that the Court’s
recent cases have articulated narrowing principles that mark a substantial shift
in both doctrine and tone.5
For confirmation of this, one need only look to the trial courts. Both
plaintiffs and defendants have been making adjustments in litigation strategy
in response to the Court’s activity, and trial judges have been faced with an
influx of personal jurisdiction-related motions.6 The bulk of this Article is
focused on these adjustments and these motions in the context of aggregate
litigation. There is certainly much to be said about current developments in
other forms of litigation,7 but the basic case structure under consideration
here involves claims—most often product liability claims—by multiple
plaintiffs against one or more defendants. Plaintiffs have long had substantial
leeway in their selection of a forum for the litigation of these sorts of disputes.8
They have used that leeway to achieve both horizontal and vertical objectives.
Horizontally, plaintiffs seek to identify states that may be hospitable to the
claims being brought; vertically, plaintiffs often seek to secure a state court
1. Int’l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310 (1945).
2. See generally Pennoyer v. Neff, 95 U.S. 714 (1877) (establishing the test courts should
use to determine whether parties had personal jurisdiction).
3. See Int’l Shoe Co., 326 U.S. at 316. The classic discussion of the impact of International
Shoe is Ar thur T . von M ehren & Dona ld T. T rautm an, Jurisdiction to Adjudicate: A Sugges ted Analysis,
79 HARV. L. REV. 1121 (1966).
4. See, e.g., Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of Cal., 137 S. Ct. 1773, 1781 (2017)
(“Our settled principles regarding specific jurisdiction control this case.”); id. at 1783 (“Our
straightforward application in this case of settled principles of personal jurisdiction will not result
in the parade of horribles that respondents conjure up.”).
5. See infra Part II.
6. See infra notes 116–19 and accompanying text.
7. As discussed infra notes 29–34 and accompanying text, a particular area for concern is
the impact on transnational cases.
8. See infra notes 84–85 and accompanying text.