Perkins v. Benguet Consolidated Mining Co.

342 U.S. 437 (1952)

A 1952 United States Supreme Court opinion in which the Court held that, notwithstanding the fact that the action arose out of the nonresident corporate defendant’s out-of-state activities, the Ohio state court could exercise general jurisdiction over that defendant because it engaged in “systematic and continuous” contacts with the forum state.  Even though Ohio was not the defendant’s principal place of business or place of incorporate, it maintained an office and conducted regular business in that state.

Reference Desk

Keeton v. Hustler Magazine Inc., 465 U.S. 770 (1984)

In Perkins v. Benguet Mining Co., 342 U.S. 437 (1952), none of the parties was a resident of the forum State; indeed, neither the plaintiff nor the subject matter of his action had any relation to that State. Jurisdiction was based solely on the fact that the defendant corporation had been carrying on in the forum “a continuous and systematic, but limited, part of  [***801]  its general business.” Id., at 438

Seymour v. Parke, 423 F.2d 584 (1st Cir. 1970)

We subscribe to the thesis advanced by A.T. von Mehren & D. T. Trautman, Jurisdiction to Adjudicate: A Suggested Analysis, 79 Harv.L.Rev. 1121, 1141-1144 (1969), [**5]  that International Shoe restricts, as well as enlarges, concepts of jurisdiction. In emphasizing “fairness” and “convenience” as the touchstone of due process, the Court said,

“It is evident that the criteria by which we mark the boundary line between those activities which justify the subjection of a corporation to suit, and those which do not, cannot be simply mechanical or quantitative. The test is not merely, as has sometimes been suggested, whether the activity, which the corporation has seen fit to procure through its agents in another state, is a little more or a little less. * * * Whether due process is satisfied must depend rather upon the quality and nature of the activity in relation to the fair and orderly administration of the Laws which it was the purpose of the due process clause to insure.” 326 U.S. at 319, 66 S. Ct. at 159-160, 90 L. Ed. 95. (Emphasis ours.) See also 326 U.S. at 317, 66 S. Ct. 154, 90 L. Ed. 95.

We have emphasized the words “not merely” because it should be obvious that in all questions of degree there must come an ultimate transition point where a very minor difference will swing the balance.  [**6]  In this connection we note the Court’s language at p. 318, 66 S. Ct. at p. 159,

“* * * There have been instances in which the continuous corporate operations within a state were thought so substantial and of such a nature as to justify suit against it on causes of action arising from dealings entirely distinct from those activities. See Missouri, K. & T.R. Co. v. Reynolds, 255 U.S. 565, 41 S. Ct. 446, 65 L. Ed. 788; Tauza v. Susquehanna Coal Co., 220 N.Y. 259, 115 N.E. 915; cf. St. Louis S.W.R. Co. v. Alexander, supra [227 U.S. 218, 33 S. Ct. 245, 57 L. Ed. 486].”

Assuming the cases cited continued to have the Court’s approval after it had propounded its new rationale, in none was the defendant’s connection with the forum as intangible as in the case at bar.

The importance of differences is well indicated by the later decision in Perkins v. Benguet Consol. Mining Co., 1952, 342 U.S. 437, 72 S. Ct. 413, 96 L. Ed. 485. The Court again spoke of “fairness,” stating that “fairness to the corporation” was the “essence of the issue.” There the defendant, a Philippine corporation, was engaged in mining in the Philippine Islands. Its operations were halted by WW II. The president, who was also general manager and principal stockholder, returned to his home in  [*587]  Ohio, where he maintained an office and employed two secretaries. He opened a company bank account, appointed a stock transfer agent, kept the company’s books, and held directors’ meetings. He conducted such business as the company could carry on in Ohio under the circumstances, and later supervised the rehabilitation of the Philippine properties. The Court held that Ohio had jurisdiction over a suit by a nonresident plaintiff arising from the corporation’s failure to pay dividends and issue stock certificates.

Benguet Consol. Mining, it seems to us, is significant in that it went beyond and gave some specificity to International Shoe’s concern with [**8]  fairness to the corporation by stressing the importance of “continuous and systematic” forum activities. 342 U.S. at 438, 445, 448, 72 S. Ct. 413, 96 L. Ed. 485. However, the meaning the Court attributed to these words can be understood only in the light of the care it manifested in scrutinizing the defendant’s precise activities in the forum before it reached the conclusion that “under the circumstances above recited, it would not violate federal due process * * * to take * * * jurisdiction.” 342 U.S. at 448, 72 S. Ct. at 420No such articulation would have been needed if any minimal concept of presence, or doing business sufficient to obtain jurisdiction for other types of claims, was thought sufficient for non-related causes of action.

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