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Copyright (c) 1988 Texas Law Review
Texas Law Review

ARTICLE: A General Look at General Jurisdiction.

March, 1988

66 Tex. L. Rev. 723


Lea Brilmayer, * Jennifer Haverkamp, ** Buck Logan, ** Loretta Lynch, ** Steve Neuwirth, ** and Jim O'Brien ***


I. Introduction

Earl Cowan died on January 18, 1976, as a result of his injury in a pickup truck accident in Cherokee County, Texas. Five years later, after the two-year Texas statute of limitations had run, his widow filed suit against Ford Motor Company and served its resident agent in Mississippi, where the limitations period is six years. Mrs. Cowan was a resident of Texas, as her husband had been. Ford is incorporated in Delaware and maintains its principal place of business in Michigan. Ford neither manufactured nor sold the truck in Mississippi. After it received service of process, Ford filed a motion to dismiss for want of jurisdiction. 1

Although these circumstances suggest the kind of tortuous hypothetical that first-year law students confront on civil procedure exams, they actually represent a typical scenario in litigation. 2 In this scenario, a plaintiff seeks jurisdiction in a forum court over a claim unrelated to activities in the forum. Such jurisdiction usually is called general jurisdiction, in contrast to specific jurisdiction, under which the claim is related to activities in the forum state. 3 The Supreme Court voiced its approval of general jurisdiction in Perkins v. Benguet Consolidated Mining Co. 4 Finding that the defendant's forum activities were "continuous and systematic," 5 the Court held that Ohio could assert jurisdiction over a claim unrelated to those activities and brought by a nonresident plaintiff. 6 The phrase "continuous and systematic" thereafter became the test used by lower ...
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