Recent Developments in Tort Litigation

Law360.com recently published two articles on decisions involving issues with potential to have long-term effects on tort litigation. In the June 2, 2011 article, "Case Study: Bauman V. DaimlerChrysler Corp.," Mildred Segura and Nabil Bisharat discuss Bauman v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., a case that expands the use of "agency theory" to impose general jurisdiction over foreign corporations that do business in the U.S. solely through their U.S. subsidiaries. The Ninth Circuit's recent decision in Bauman holds that personal jurisdiction existed over DaimlerChrysler Aktiengellschaft (DCAG), a German company, because DCAG maintained the right to control its wholly owned U.S. subsidiary, Mercedes-Benz USA LLC (MBUSA), such that DCAG could be haled into court in California due to MBUSA's contacts with that state. Bauman increases the likelihood that foreign corporations will be sued in American courts based on the activities of their U.S. subsidiaries. This opinion – if it stands – has the potential to affect any foreign company that does business in the U.S. through subsidiaries regardless of whether those subsidiaries have anything to do with the parent's alleged actions giving rise to the lawsuit. To read this article, you may download a .PDF or view on Law360.com (subscription required). In "Reading Between The Lines: Pooshs V. Philip Morris," published in May, Eric Buhr and Kasey Curtis analyze the California Supreme Court's May 5th decision in Pooshs v. Philip Morris USA Inc., the latest California case addressing how statutes of limitations should apply in cases where a plaintiff alleges delayed discovery of only one of multiple claims or injuries. The background issue that appears to be guiding the Supreme Court's decisions is the little used doctrine of "primary rights." A close reading of the opinions reveals the court's careful effort to reach an arguably fair result while avoiding issues that could have a larger and devastating effect on tort litigation. To read this article, you may download a .PDF or view on Law360.com (subscription required).

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