Catholic University Law Review


David Crump


In Daimler AG v. Baumann, the Supreme Court held that general jurisdiction does not exist unless the defendant is “essentially at home” in the forum. It offered two examples of places fitting this description but gave little further guidance or justification. A metaphor, such as essentially at home, is a bad way to express a legal standards, because the essence of a metaphor is that it substitutes one reality for another, creating a deliberate confusion. The Court also equated general jurisdiction with what it called all-purpose jurisdiction, which is wrong because it is easy to pose cases in which general jurisdiction does not extend to all purposes.

This article focuses on anomalous outcomes that can result from the essentially at home requirement. The focus is on four situations that produce what can be called "embarrassing cases." The four are titled, in an effort at brief description, The Multistate Partnership, The Border Town, The Biggest Business in the State, and Specific Jurisdiction Next Door. In these situations, the at home requirement produces unjust and sometimes anomalous results. And the article suggests that there are many other types of cases in which there will be odd results.

The Supreme Court would do well to reconsider the essentially at home requirement and configure it in a way that works better.