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SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
BNSF RAILWAY CO., PETITIONER v.
TYRRELL, special administrator for the ESTATE OF BRENT T. TYRRELL,
DECEASED, et al.
on writ of certiorari to the supreme court of
[May 30, 2017]
Justice Ginsburg delivered the opinion of the
The two cases we decide today arise under the
Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), 35Stat. 65, as
amended, 45 U. S. C. §51 et seq.
makes railroads liable in money damages to their employees for
on-the-job injuries. Both suits were pursued in Montana state
courts although the injured workers did not reside in Montana, nor
were they injured there. The defendant railroad, BNSF Railway
Company (BNSF), although “doing business” in Montana
when the litigation commenced, was not incorporated in Montana, nor
did it maintain its principal place of business in that State. To
justify the exercise of personal jurisdiction over BNSF, the
Montana Supreme Court relied on §56, which provides in
“Under this chapter an action may be
brought in a district court of the United States, in the district
of the residence of the defendant, or in which the cause of action
arose, or in which the defendant shall be doing business at the
time of commencing such action. The jurisdiction of the courts of
the United States under this chapter shall be concurrent with that
of the courts of the several States.”
We hold that §56 does not address personal
jurisdiction over railroads. Its first relevant sentence is a venue
prescription governing proper locations for FELA suits filed in
federal court. The provision’s second relevant sentence,
using the term “concurrent” jurisdiction, refers to
subject-matter jurisdiction, not personal jurisdiction. It simply
clarifies that the federal courts do not have exclusive
subject-matter jurisdiction over FELA suits; state courts can hear
Montana’s Supreme Court, in the
alternative, relied on state law, under which personal jurisdiction
could be asserted over “persons found within . . .
Montana.” Mont. Rule Civ. Proc. 4(b)(1) (2015). BNSF fit that
bill, the court stated, because it has over 2,000 miles of railroad
track and employs more than 2,000 workers in Montana. Our
precedent, however, explains that the Fourteenth Amendment’s
Due Process Clause does not permit a State to hale an out-of-state
corporation before its courts when the corporation is not “at
home” in the State and theepisode-in-suit occurred elsewhere.
, 571 U. S. ___, ___ (2014)
(slip op., at 8) (internal quotation marks omitted). We therefore
reverse the judgment of the Montana Supreme Court.
In March 2011, respondent Robert Nelson, a
North Dakota resident, brought a FELA suit against BNSF in a
Montana state court to recover damages for knee injuries Nelson
allegedly sustained while working for BNSF as a fuel-truck driver.
383 Mont. 417, 419, 373 P. 3d 1, 3 (2016). In May 2014,
respondent Kelli Tyrrell, appointed in South Dakota as the
administrator of her husband Brent Tyrrell’s estate,
similarly sued BNSF under FELA in a Montana state court.
, at 419–420, 373 P. 3d, at 3.
Tyrrell, his widow alleged, had developed a fatal kidney cancer
from his exposure to carcinogenic chemicals while working for BNSF.
, at 420, 373 P. 3d, at 3. Neither plaintiff alleged
injuries arising from or related to work performed in Montana;
indeed, neither Nelson nor Brent Tyrrell appears ever to have
worked for BNSF in Montana. Id.
, at 419–420, 373
P. 3d, at 3.
BNSF is incorporated in Delaware and has its
principal place of business in Texas. Id.
, at 419, 373
P. 3d, at 3. It operates railroad lines in 28 States. No. DV
14–699 (13th Jud. Dist., Yellowstone Cty., Mont., Oct. 7,
2014), App. to Pet. for Cert. 63a. BNSF has 2,061 miles of railroad
track in Montana (about 6% of its total track mileage of 32,500),
employs some 2,100 workers there (less than 5% of its total work
force of 43,000), generates less than 10% of its total revenue in
the State, and maintains only one of its 24 automotive facilities
in Montana (4%). Ibid.
Contending that it is not “at
home” in Montana, as required for the exercise of general
personal jurisdiction under Daimler AG
U. S. ___, ___ (2014) (slip op., at 8) (internal quotation
marks omitted), BNSF moved to dismiss both suits for lack of
personal jurisdiction. Its motion was granted in Nelson’s
case and denied in Tyrrell’s. 383 Mont., at 419, 373
P. 3d, at 2.
After consolidating the two cases, the Montana
Supreme Court held that Montana courts could exercise general
personal jurisdiction over BNSF. Id.
, at 429, 373
P. 3d, at 9. Section 56, the court determined, authorizes
state courts to exercise personal jurisdiction over railroads
“doing business” in the State. Id.
, at 426, 373
P. 3d, at 7 (internal quotation marks omitted). In addition,
the court observed, Montana law provides for the exercise of
general jurisdiction over “[a]ll persons found within”
the State. Id.
, at 427, 373 P. 3d, at 8 (quoting Mont.
Rule Civ. Proc. 4(b)(1) (2015)). In view of the railroad’s
many employees and miles of track in Montana, the court concluded,
BNSF is both “doing business” and “found
within” the State, such that both FELA and Montana law
authorized the exercise of personal jurisdiction. 383 Mont., at
426, 428, 373 P. 3d, at 7–8 (internal quotation marks
omitted). The due process limits articulated in Daimler
court added, did not control, because Daimler
involve a FELA claim or a railroad defendant. 383 Mont., at 424,
373 P. 3d, at 6.
Justice McKinnon dissented. Section 56, she
wrote, is a federal-court venue prescription, and also confers
subject-matter jurisdiction on state courts in FELA cases,
concurrent with federal courts. Id.
, at 435–437, 373
P. 3d, at 13. But §56, she maintained, does not touch or
concern personal jurisdiction. Ibid.
controls, rendering the Montana
courts’ exercise of personal jurisdiction impermissible
because BNSF is not “at home” in Montana. 383 Mont., at
433–434, 373 P. 3d, at 11–12.
We granted certiorari, 580 U. S. ___
(2017), to resolve whether §56 authorizes state courts to
exercise personal jurisdiction over railroads doing business in
their States but not incorporated or headquartered there, and
whether the Montana courts’ exercise of personal jurisdiction
in these cases comports with due process.
Nelson and Tyrrell contend that
§56’s first relevant sentence confers personal
jurisdiction on federal courts, and that the section’s second
relevant sentence extends that grant of jurisdiction to state
courts. Neither contention is tenable. Section 56’s first
relevant sentence concerns venue; its next sentence speaks to
The first sentence of §56 states that
“an action may be brought in a district court of the United
States,” in, among other places, the district “in which
the defendant shall be doing business at the time of commencing
such action.” In Baltimore & Ohio R. Co.
, 314 U. S. 44 (1941) , we comprehended this
clause as “establish[ing] venue” for a federal-court
at 52. Congress, we explained, designed
§56 to expand venue beyond the limits of the 1888 Judiciary
Act’s general venue provision, which allowed suit only
“in districts of which the defendant was an
, at 49; see Act of Aug. 13, 1888,
§1, 25Stat. 434. Nowhere in Kepner
or in any other
decision did we intimate that §56 might affect personal
Congress generally uses the expression, where
suit “may be brought,” to indicate the federal
districts in which venue is proper. See, e.g.
U. S. C. §1391(b) (general venue statute specifying
where “[a] civil action may be brought”); J. Oakley,
ALI, Fed. Judicial Code Rev. Project 253–290 (2004) (listing
special venue statutes, many with similar language). See also
, 314 U. S., at 56 (Frankfurter, J., dissenting)
(“The phrasing of [§56] follows the familiar pattern
generally employed by Congress in framing venue
In contrast, Congress’ typical mode of
providing for the exercise of personal jurisdiction has been to
authorize service of process. See, e.g.
U. S. C. §22 (Clayton Act provision stating that
“all process in [cases against a corporation arising under
federal antitrust laws] may be served in the district of which [the
defendant] is an inhabitant, or wherever [the defendant] may be
found”); §53(a) (under Federal Trade Commission Act,
“process may be served on any person, partnership, or
corporation wherever it may be found”). See also Omni
Capital Int’l, Ltd.
v. Rudolf Wolff & Co.
U. S. 97 –107 (1987) (discussing statutes that authorize
(or fail to authorize) nationwide service of process). But cf.
, 401 U. S. 487 , n. 4
(1971) (though “Congress has provided for nationwide service
of process” in 28 U. S. C. §1391(e) (1964 ed.,
Supp. V), that statute was meant to expand venue, not personal
jurisdiction). Congress uses this terminology because, absent
consent, a basis for service of a summons on the defendant is
prerequisite to the exercise of personal jurisdiction. See Omni
, 484 U. S., at 104.
Nelson and Tyrrell, however, argue that §56
relates to personal jurisdiction. In their view, the 1888 Judiciary
Act provision that prompted §56’s enactment, 25Stat.
434, concerned both
personal jurisdiction and venue.
According to House and Senate Reports, they contend, two cases had
brought to Congress’ attention the problem with the prior
provision—namely, that in federal-question cases it
authorized suit only in the district of the defendant’s
residence. Brief for Respondents 16–18. See H. R. Rep.
No. 513, 61st Cong., 2d Sess., 6 (1910) (citing Macon Grocery
v. Atlantic Coast Line R. Co.
, 215 U. S. 501
(1910) ; Cound
v. Atchison, T. & S. F. R. Co.
173 F. 527 (WD Tex. 1909)); S. Rep. No. 432, 61st Cong., 2d
Sess., 4 (1910) (same). In both cases, the courts had
dismissed FELA suits for “want of jurisdiction.”
, 215 U. S., at 510; Cound
, 173 F.,
at 534. To avert such jurisdictional dismissals, they urge,
Congress enacted §56.
Legislative history “throws little
light” here. Kepner
, 314 U. S., at 50.[2
] Driving today’s decision, we
have long read the 1888 Judiciary Act provision to concern venue
only. See Green
v. Chicago, B. & Q. R. Co.
U. S. 530 –533 (1907) (analyzing personal jurisdiction
separately, after concluding that venue was proper under 1888
Judiciary Act provision). See also Lee
& Ohio R. Co.
, 260 U. S. 653, 655 (1923) (noting that
materially identical successor to 1888 Judiciary Act provision, Act
of Mar. 3, 1911, §51, 36Stat. 1101, “relates to the
venue of suits”). Indeed, reading the 1888 Judiciary Act
provision to authorize the exercise of personal jurisdiction would
have yielded an anomalous result: In diversity cases, the provision
allowed for suit “in the district of the residence of either
the plaintiff or the defendant.” 25Stat. 434. Interpreting
that clause to provide for jurisdiction would have allowed a
plaintiff to hale a defendant into court in the plaintiff’s
home district, even if the district was one with which the
defendant had no affiliation, and the episode-in-suit, no
The second §56 sentence in point provides
that “[t]he jurisdiction of the courts of the United States
under this chapter shall be concurrent with that of the courts of
the several States.” Nelson and Tyrrell argue that this
sentence extends to state courts the first sentence’s alleged
conferral of personal jurisdiction on federal courts. But, as just
discussed, the first sentence concerns federal-court venue and
confers no personal jurisdiction on any court.
We have understood §56’s second
sentence to provide for the concurrent subject-matter
jurisdiction of state and federal courts over actions under FELA.
See Second Employers’ Liability Cases
, 223 U. S.
1 –56 (1912). As Nelson and Tyrrell acknowledge, Congress
added the provision to confirm concurrent subject-matter
jurisdiction after the Connecticut Supreme Court held that Congress
intended to confine FELA litigation to federal courts, and that
state courts had no obligation to entertain FELA claims. See Brief
for Respondents 23 (citing Hoxie
v. New York, N. H.
& H. R. Co.
, 82 Conn. 352, 73 A. 754 (1909)). As
Justice McKinnon recognized in her dissent from the Montana Supreme
Court’s decision in Nelson’s and Tyrrell’s cases,
“[t]he phrase ‘concurrent jurisdiction’ is a
well-known term of art long employed by Congress and courts to
refer to subject-matter jurisdiction, not personal
jurisdiction.” 383 Mont., at 436, 373 P. 3d, at 13. See,
v. Arrow Financial Services, LLC
565 U. S. 368, 372 (2012) (“federal and state courts
have concurrent jurisdiction over private suits arising under the
[Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, 47 U. S. C.
U. S. 130 –134 (1876) (State courts retain
“concurrent jurisdiction” over “suits in which a
bankrupt” party is involved, notwithstanding exclusive
federal jurisdiction over bankruptcy matters).
Pointing to a quartet of cases, the Montana
Supreme Court observed that this Court “consistently has
interpreted [§]56 to allow state courts to hear cases brought
under FELA even where the only basis for jurisdiction is the
railroad doing business in the forum [S]tate.” 383 Mont., at
421–423, 425–426, 373 P. 3d, at 4–7 (citing
v. Atlantic Coast Line R. Co.
, 345 U. S.
379 (1953) ; Miles
v. Illinois Central R. Co.
U. S. 698 (1942) ; Kepner
, 314 U. S. 44 ;
Denver & Rio Grande Western R. Co.
U. S. 284 (1932) ).
None of the decisions featured by the Montana
Supreme Court resolved a question of personal jurisdiction.
held that a FELA plaintiff, injured in Colorado, could
bring suit in Missouri state court against a railroad incorporated
elsewhere. 284 U. S., at 286–287. The dispute, however,
was over the Dormant Commerce Clause, not personal jurisdiction;
the railroad defendants argued that the suit would unduly burden
interstate commerce, and the decision rested on two Commerce Clause
decisions, Michigan Central R. Co.
U. S. 492 (1929) , and Hoffman
v. Missouri ex rel.
, 274 U. S. 21 (1927) , not on an interpretation of
§56. See Terte
, 284 U. S., at 285, 287. In
, this Court held that a state court
may not, based on inconvenience to a railroad defendant, enjoin its
residents from bringing a FELA suit in another State’s
) or state (Miles
, 314 U. S., at 54; Miles
, 315 U. S.,
at 699–700, 704. Pope
held that 28 U. S. C.
§1404(a)’s provision for transfer from one federal court
to another did not bear on the question decided in Miles
state court still could not enjoin a FELA action brought in another
State’s courts. 345 U. S., at 383–384.
Moreover, all these cases, save Pope
were decided before this Court’s transformative decision on
personal jurisdiction in International Shoe Co.
, 326 U. S. 310 (1945) . See Daimler
571 U. S., at ___, n. 18 (slip op., at 20, n. 18)
(cautioning against reliance on cases “decided in the era
dominated by” the “territorial thinking” of
, 95 U. S. 714 (1878) ).
Because FELA does not authorize state courts
to exercise personal jurisdiction over a railroad solely on the
ground that the railroad does some business in their States, the
Montana courts’ assertion of personal jurisdiction over BNSF
here must rest on Mont. Rule Civ. Proc. 4(b)(1), the State’s
provision for the exercise of personal jurisdiction over
“persons found” in Montana. See supra
2–3. BNSF does not contest that it is “found
within” Montana as the State’s courts comprehend that
rule. We therefore inquire whether the Montana courts’
exercise of personal jurisdiction under Montana law comports with
the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
In International Shoe
, this Court
explained that a state court may exercise personal jurisdiction
over an out-of-state defendant who has “certain minimum
contacts with [the State] such that the maintenance of the suit
does not offend ‘traditional notions of fair play and
substantial justice.’ ” 326 U. S., at 316.
Elaborating on this guide, we have distinguished between specific
or case-linked jurisdiction and general or all-purpose
jurisdiction. See, e.g.
, 571 U. S., at
___ (slip op., at 8); Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations,
, 564 U. S. 915, 919 (2011) ;
Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S. A.
, 466 U. S. 408 , nn. 8, 9 (1984). Because
neither Nelson nor Tyrrell alleges any injury from work in or
related to Montana, only the propriety of general jurisdiction is
at issue here.
that “[a] court may assert general jurisdiction over foreign
(sister-state or foreign-country) corporations to hear any and all
claims against them when their affiliations with the State are so
‘continuous and systematic’ as to render them
essentially at home in the forum State.” Daimler
U. S., at ___ (slip op., at 8) (quoting Goodyear
U. S., at 919). The “paradigm” forums in which a
corporate defendant is “at home,” we explained, are the
corporation’s place of incorporation and its principal place
of business. Daimler
, 571 U. S., at ___ (slip op., at
, 564 U. S., at 924. The exercise
of general jurisdiction is not limited to these forums; in an
“exceptional case,” a corporate defendant’s
operations in another forum “may be so substantial and of
such a nature as to render the corporation at home in that
, 571 U. S., at ___, n. 19
(slip op., at 20, n. 19). We suggested that Perkins
Benguet Consol. Mining Co.
, 342 U. S. 437 (1952) ,
exemplified such a case. Daimler
, 571 U. S., at ___,
n. 19 (slip op., at 20, n. 19). In Perkins
had forced the defendant corporation’s owner to temporarily
relocate the enterprise from the Philippines to Ohio. 342
U. S., at 447–448. Because Ohio then became “the
center of the corporation’s wartime activities,”
, 571 U. S., at ___, n. 8 (slip op., at 12,
n. 8), suit was proper there, Perkins
, 342 U. S.,
The Montana Supreme Court distinguished
on the ground that we did not there confront
“a FELA claim or a railroad defendant.” 383 Mont., at
424, 373 P. 3d, at 6. The Fourteenth Amendment due process
constraint described in Daimler
, however, applies to all
state-court assertions of general jurisdiction over nonresident
defendants; the constraint does not vary with the type of claim
asserted or business enterprise sued.[3
BNSF, we repeat, is not incorporated in Montana
and does not maintain its principal place of business there. Nor is
BNSF so heavily engaged in activity in Montana “as to render
[it] essentially at home” in that State. See Daimler
571 U. S., at ___ (slip op., at 8) (internal quotation marks
omitted). As earlier noted, BNSF has over 2,000 miles of railroad
track and more than 2,000 employees in Montana. But, as we observed
, “the general jurisdiction inquiry does not
focus solely on the magnitude of the defendant’s in-state
, at ___, n. 20 (slip op., at 21,
n. 20) (internal quotation marks and alterations omitted).
Rather, the inquiry “calls for an appraisal of a
corporation’s activities in their entirety”; “[a]
corporation that operates in many places can scarcely be deemed at
home in all of them.” Ibid
. In short, the business
BNSF does in Montana is sufficient to subject the railroad to
specific personal jurisdiction in that State on claims related to
the business it does in Montana. But in-state business, we
clarified in Daimler
, does not suffice
to permit the assertion of general jurisdiction over claims like
Nelson’s and Tyrrell’s that are unrelated to any
activity occurring in Montana.[4
Nelson and Tyrrell present a further
argument—that BNSF has consented to personal jurisdiction in
Montana. See Brief for Respondents 50–51. The Montana Supreme
Court did not address this contention, see 383 Mont., at 429,
n. 3, 373 P. 3d, at 9, n. 3, so we do not reach it.
, 544 U. S. 709 ,
n. 7 (2005) (“[W]e are a court of review, not of first
* * *
For the reasons stated, the judgment of the
Montana Supreme Court is reversed, and the cases are remanded for
further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.
It is so ordered.