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In Copyright


Personal jurisdiction—the doctrine that determines where a plaintiff can sue—is a mess. Everyone agrees that a court can exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant with sufficient in-state contacts related to a plaintiff’s claim. This Article reveals, however, that courts diverge radically in their understanding of what a claim is. Without stating so outright, some courts limit the claim to a cause of action or its elements, while others understand it to encompass the controversy underlying the litigation. What is worse, few have noticed that these discrepancies even exist, much less explained why. This Article does just that. We show that how a court chooses to define claim, while usually left implicit, controls the scope of jurisdiction. That choice can force parties to litigate piecemeal and effectively foreclose restitution for underresourced plaintiffs by shutting them out their home courts. This chaos harms litigants, disrupts the judicial system, and undermines civil procedure values. As of this year, it also flies in the face of Supreme Court precedent. We show how the recent decision in Ford v. Montana settles the matter and helps cohere personal jurisdiction with its underlying due process commitments.

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Washington University Law Review

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