Supreme Court Allows Unusual Pennsylvania Law on Corporate Suits

supreme court upheld Pennsylvania law The bill requires companies to agree to be sued in court by anyone, anywhere, as a condition of doing business in the state.

Pennsylvania is the only state with such a law. But the ruling could pave the way for other states to enact similar rulings, giving victims, workers and others a choice in litigation and making companies hostile to business. may sue in a court that may deem

The Supreme Court was split 5 to 4, with Justice Neil M. Gorsuch writing in the majority. In his ruling against Norfolk Southern Corporation, which was at the center of the lawsuit, Judge Gorsuch said that under the 14th Amendment, the company had “a more favorable position to defend against lawsuits in which even an employee must answer.” We have the right to apply the rules.”

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, along with Chief Justices John G. Roberts, Jr., Justices Elena Kagan, and Justices Brett M. It unfairly violates the rights of other states because it imposes It has nothing to do with the Commonwealth. “

The lawsuit was brought by Mr. Robert Mallory, who worked as a wagon mechanic in Virginia and Ohio for about 20 years, during which time he was incorporated in Virginia and was then with the Norfolk Southern Railroad. said he developed cancer after being exposed to toxic chemicals. We are based there.

Mallory claimed his work included spraying the pipes of the boxcar with asbestos and dismantling the interior, which he claimed contained carcinogens. The issue in this lawsuit was whether the lawsuit could be filed in Pennsylvania, a third state with no specific connection to the lawsuit.

The decision was made following the derailment of a Norfolk Southern train laden with toxic chemicals near the Pennsylvania border, increasing the risk of an incident. A fire and explosion threat prompted authorities to burn part of the train’s dangerous cargo, raising concerns over public health and environmental harm.

Derailment accident is approaching Judgment on Tuesday, Justice Gorsuch addresses the issue directly at the outset of the opinion. Suppose an Ohio resident sues the conductor for illness from the accident, he writes. If the resident filed a lawsuit over the conductor just across the Pennsylvania border, the judges would all agree that they could try the case in state courts. But Southern Norfolk argued that it would be protected from just that scenario, writes Justice Gorsuch.

Justice Gorsuch added, “No due process clause calls for a more inconsistent result.”

The Supreme Court has long said that companies can be sued where they are founded or headquartered. And if the plaintiff’s allegations relate to the defendant’s contacts with the state, they can be sued in certain cases.

Mr. Mallory did not rely on any of these jurisdictional grounds. Instead, it pointed to a Pennsylvania law that requires companies doing business in the state to agree to be sued there.

Explaining the historical background of the incident, Mallory v. Norfolk Southern RailwayNo. 21-1168, Judge Gorsuch explained how corporations have resisted where claims against them could be heard.

“Naturally, companies didn’t like the prospect of any claim being brought to court wherever they did business,” he wrote.

Southern Norfolk is also pushing business in Pennsylvania, he wrote. In Justice Gorsuch’s opinion, A fact sheet was included The company says it includes a graphic chart with a yellow map of Pennsylvania outlining its “extensive network of tracks and terminals.”

In his dissenting opinion, Justice Barrett said Pennsylvania’s assertion of general jurisdiction over all companies legally doing business in the state “defies precedent.”

“Pennsylvania’s power seizure not only violates the rights of defendants, but undermines the states’ proper role in the federal system,” she added.

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