Ansa Assuncao LLP Handles Important Appeals for its Clients. When we litigate a case, we do so anticipating the issues that may prove vital on appeal. We advise clients on these appellate issues before and during trial. We are often brought into a case after trial to handle post-trial motions and the appeal. Our appellate representations have included matters pending before the United States Supreme Court, various Federal Circuit Courts of Appeal and numerous state appellate courts.
Our attorneys successfully argued the case of J. McIntyre Machinery, Ltd. v. Nicastro, 564 U.S. 873 (2011) before the United States Supreme Court, in which the Court considered the stream-of-commerce theory of personal jurisdiction for the first time since 1987. The case was closely watched by the international business and legal communities because of its impact on the financial exposure international companies might face in the United States when products manufactured overseas are sold in this country. Ansa Assuncao’s efforts resulted in the reversal of the New Jersey Supreme Court’s improvident exercise of personal jurisdiction over our client, J. McIntyre Machinery, Ltd., a Nottingham, England-based manufacturer of metal recycling equipment.
For 24 years, the United States Supreme Court had left unsettled the constitutional limitations on a court’s power to exercise jurisdiction over nonresident defendants. In 1987, the Court split evenly on how to interpret the “minimum contacts” with a state necessary to permit the constitutional exercise of personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state defendant whose product allegedly causes injury within the state. Over the next two decades, numerous petitions were filed with the Supreme Court seeking clarification. Each was denied until we obtained certiorari for J. McIntyre.
The case involved a New Jersey plaintiff injured while working on equipment manufactured by J. McIntyre. The equipment was sold to an Ohio company, which in turn resold it to a New Jersey scrap metal dealer. J. McIntyre had no contacts with New Jersey and no knowledge of the resale into New Jersey. While J. McIntyre sold its products in the United States, it did not target New Jersey purchasers.
The trial court granted our motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction (twice) and the appeal was argued (twice) before the New Jersey Appellate Division. The New Jersey Appellate Division ultimately determined that the trial court could exercise jurisdiction over our client. The New Jersey Supreme Court agreed in a 5-2 decision. Fashioning a new rule of personal jurisdiction based on a stream of commerce theory, the New Jersey Supreme Court gave New Jersey trial courts almost unlimited power to hear cases involving non-resident defendants.
Steve Gooby, Bob Assuncao, James Coons and Arthur Fergenson (who had clerked for Chief Justice Warren E. Burger), obtained certiorari and prepared the merits briefs. Mr. Fergenson successfully argued the case on January 11, 2011. Justice Kennedy, writing for a plurality of four, determined that even under a stream-of-commerce theory, the defendant must purposefully avail itself of the benefits or protection of the forum, or target the forum for the sale of its goods, in order for personal jurisdiction to arise. Since J. McIntyre had not purposefully availed itself of the benefits and protections of New Jersey, New Jersey Courts could not exercise jurisdiction over it in this case. Justice Breyer wrote a concurrence joined by Justice Alito. The decision was substantially influenced by our arguments.
In the five years since J. McIntyre was decided, nearly 600 lower court decisions have cited to the Court’s opinion. The case is now required reading for first-year law school students.
Some additional examples of appeals Ansa Assuncao attorneys have argued include: