Jurisdiction -- 2019

ExxonMobil v. Healey   (U.S. Supreme Court)

Personal jurisdiction for subpoenas

The NAM filed an amicus brief to oppose the power of state attorneys general to subpoena out-of-state corporations over issues that are unrelated to the company’s activity in the state. The Massachusetts attorney general issued a subpoena to ExxonMobil that sought decades of communications related to climate change.

The company challenged the subpoena, arguing that its in-state activity was not sufficiently related to the scope of the subpoena. The Massachusetts Supreme Court upheld the subpoena despite the tenuous connection between the focus of the subpoena (climate change) and the company’s limited in-state activity (licensing agreements with independently-owned gas stations). That low bar for jurisdiction over out-of-state defendants threatens all manufacturers by massively expanding the range of courts through which plaintiffs or government officials may pursue claims against manufacturers. The NAM’s amicus brief in support of the company's petition for certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court argues that subpoenas like this are valid only when the nature of the company’s in-state conduct has a substantial relationship with the focus of the subpoena.

On January 7, 2019, the Court denied certiorari.

Related Documents:
NAM petition  (October 11, 2018)


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