STATE EX REL. NORFOLK SOUTHERN RAILWAY COMPANY, Relator,
THE HONORABLE COLLEEN DOLAN, Respondent.
Proceeding in Prohibition
Denvir Stith, Judge
Southern Railway Company, a Virginia corporation, seeks a
writ of prohibition directing the trial court to dismiss the
underlying personal injury action brought against it under
the Federal Employer's Liability Act (FELA), 45 U.S.C.
§§ 51 et seq. Norfolk alleges Missouri has
no personal jurisdiction over it where, as here, the injury
occurred in Indiana to Russel Parker, an Indiana resident, as
a result of his work for Norfolk in Indiana.
Court agrees that Missouri does not have specific or general
personal jurisdiction over Norfolk. Though Norfolk does own
and operate on railroad tracks in Missouri, the personal
injury action did not arise out of, and does not relate to,
Norfolk's activities in Missouri, thereby depriving
Missouri of specific jurisdiction. A plaintiff may bring an
action in Missouri on a cause of action unrelated to a
corporation's Missouri activities if the corporation is
incorporated in Missouri, has its principal place of business
in Missouri, or in the exceptional case when its contacts
with Missouri are so extensive and all-encompassing that
Missouri, in effect, becomes another home state. None of
these requirements is met here. While Norfolk does
substantial and continuous business in Missouri, it also
conducts substantial and continuous business in at least 21
other states, and its Missouri business amounts to only about
2 percent of its total business. This is insufficient to
establish general personal jurisdiction over Norfolk.
Court also rejects Parker's argument that, by complying
with Missouri's foreign corporation registration statute,
Norfolk impliedly consented to general jurisdiction in
Missouri, as well as the argument that FELA provides an
independent basis for jurisdiction over Norfolk.
Missouri's registration statute does not require foreign
corporations to consent to suit over activities unrelated to
Missouri, and the cited FELA statute is a venue statute that
does not provide an independent ground for jurisdiction of
FELA cases in state courts that do not otherwise have
personal jurisdiction over the defendant. The preliminary
writ of prohibition is made permanent.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
underlying action is a personal injury FELA lawsuit filed in
St. Louis County by Russell Parker, a resident of Indiana,
against Norfolk, a Virginia corporation with its principal
place of business in Virginia. Parker alleges cumulative
trauma injury sustained during his years of employment with
Norfolk in Indiana.
annually complies with Missouri's foreign business
registration statutes by registering with the state and
designating an agent to receive service of process.
§§ 351.574 et seq. Norfolk also has brought suit and been
sued in Missouri courts numerous times, but only for matters
arising from or related to its activities in Missouri. Parker
never worked for Norfolk in Missouri. He does not allege any
negligence or other conduct or omission by Norfolk in
Missouri caused the injury, nor does his petition set out any
basis for specific or general personal jurisdiction over
Norfolk other than his statement that Norfolk conducts
substantial business and owns property in Missouri. While the
record shows that Norfolk's train tracks run through
Missouri, it also shows that those tracks span at least 22
states, and that the portion of Norfolk's business
conducted in Missouri is only about 2 percent of its
nationwide business activity.
moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. After a
hearing, the trial court overruled the motion without stating
the grounds for its ruling. Norfolk then filed a petition for
a writ of prohibition or, in the alternative, a writ of
mandamus in the Missouri Court of Appeals. That petition was
denied, and Norfolk sought the same relief in this Court.
This Court issued a preliminary writ of prohibition.
argues that Missouri has both general and specific
jurisdiction over Norfolk and, alternatively, that Norfolk
consented to personal jurisdiction by registering to do
business in Missouri and appointing a Missouri agent for
service of process, or that FELA confers specific personal
jurisdiction over a railroad in any state where the railroad
owns or operates tracks. For the reasons set out below, this
Court rejects these arguments, which often inappropriately
blur the distinct bases on which each type of jurisdiction is
based. Because the Court finds that none of the bases for
jurisdiction alleged is supported by the record, the
preliminary writ is made permanent.
STANDARDS APPLICABLE TO ISSUANCE OF WRIT OF PROHIBITION
Court has discretion to issue and determine original remedial
writs. Mo. Const. art. V, § 4.1.
"Prohibition is the proper remedy to prevent further
action of the trial court where personal jurisdiction of the
defendant is lacking." State ex rel. William Ranni
Assoc., Inc. v. Hartenbach, 742 S.W.2d 134, 137 (Mo.
banc 1987) (issuing a writ for the trial court's improper
denial of a motion to dismiss for lack of personal
jurisdiction). "The extraordinary remedy of a writ of
prohibition is available: (1) to prevent the usurpation of
judicial power when the trial court lacks authority or
jurisdiction; (2) to remedy an excess of authority,
jurisdiction or abuse of discretion where the lower court
lacks the power to act as intended; or (3) where a party may
suffer irreparable harm if relief is not granted."
State ex rel. Missouri Pub. Def. Comm'n v.
Waters, 370 S.W.3d 592, 603 (Mo. banc 2012). However,
prohibition is only proper "when usurpation of
jurisdiction … is clearly evident." State ex
rel. Tarrasch v. Crow, 622 S.W.2d 928, 937 (Mo. banc
THIS COURT DOES NOT HAVE PERSONAL JURISDICTION OVER
General Principles Governing Personal Jurisdiction.
jurisdiction is the authority of a court over the parties in
a particular case. State ex rel. Kansas City S. Ry. Co.
v. Nixon, 282 S.W.3d 363, 365 (Mo. banc 2009); Ins.
Corp. of Ireland v. Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinee,
456 U.S. 694, 702 (1982). It is a due process requirement
that limits the power of state courts over litigants.
Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S.Ct. 746, 751 (2014);
Bryant v. Smith Interior Design Grp., Inc., 310
S.W.3d 227, 231 (Mo. banc 2010). The basis of a court's
personal jurisdiction over a corporation can be general -
that is, all-purpose jurisdiction - or it can be specific -
that is, conduct-linked jurisdiction. Daimler, 134
S.Ct. at 751. Additionally, because personal jurisdiction is
an individual right, a defendant may waive jurisdictional
objections by consenting to personal jurisdiction. State
ex rel. Heartland Title Servs., Inc. v. Harrell, 500
S.W.3d 239, 241 (Mo. banc 2016).
a State exercises personal jurisdiction over a defendant in a
suit not arising out of or related to the defendant's
contacts with the forum, the State has been said to be
exercising 'general jurisdiction' over the
defendant." Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia,
S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 415 n.9 (1984). In recent
years, the Supreme Court has clarified the test for when the
exercise of general jurisdiction over a corporation comports
with due process. Daimler, 134 S.Ct. at 754;
Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564
U.S. 915, 919 (2011). A court normally can exercise general
jurisdiction over a corporation only when the
corporation's place of incorporation or its principal
place of business is in the forum state. Goodyear,
564 U.S. at 919; Daimler, 134 S.Ct. at
754. In "exceptional cases,
" general jurisdiction may exist in an additional state
if the corporation's activities in that other state are
"so substantial and of such a nature as to render the
corporation at home in that State." Daimler,
134 S.Ct. at 761 n.19.
argues that Norfolk's "continuous and
systematic" business in Missouri supports finding that
Missouri has general jurisdiction over it even for cases not
arising from its activities in Missouri. Prior to
Daimler, this would have been a valid argument.
State ex rel. K-Mart Corp. v. Holliger, 986 S.W.2d
165, 168-69 (Mo. banc 1999). But, it is no longer the law. In
Daimler, the plaintiff similarly argued a large
corporation's subsidiary conducting substantial and
continuous business in the state as the state's largest
seller of luxury cars was sufficient to establish
jurisdiction. Daimler, 134 S.Ct. at 752, 758. The
Supreme Court expressly rejected that argument. While Daimler
did substantial and continuous business in California, it did
business throughout the United States and its California
business constituted only 2.4 percent of its total sales.
Id. at 752. The Supreme Court held that the mere
conduct of these systematic and continuous business
activities in the state was not sufficient to subject the
corporation to general jurisdiction in the state for all
causes of action not related to that state. Id. at
v. Lockheed Martin Corp.,814 F.3d 619, 627-30 (2d Cir.
2016), applied Daimler's appraisal of a foreign
corporation's forum activity to Lockheed, which was sued
in Connecticut for a claim not connected in any way to its
Connecticut activities. Lockheed was incorporated and had its
principal place of business in Maryland, but it registered to
do business in Connecticut and complied with
Connecticut's registration statutes requiring designation
of an in-state agent to receive service of process.
Id. at 622. Over the relevant time span, it
generated approximately $160 million in revenue and employed
between 30 and 70 people per year in Connecticut; maintained
a physical presence in the state, including lease of a ...