In Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court (BMS), eighty-six California residents and five hundred ninety-two nonresidents from thirty-three different states, who had originally filed eight separate complaints, used ordinary party joinder rules to file a mass tort action in California state court, alleging that Bristol-Myers Squibb’s blood-thinning drug made them sick. The Supreme Court held in 2017 that the California state court did not have specific personal jurisdiction over the national pharmaceutical company because its contacts with California were insufficient in relation to the claims by nonresident plaintiffs. Although BMS was a mass action filed in state court, its applicability to other forms of aggregate litigation was left open by the Court. As a result, a growing split among the courts has emerged regarding BMS’s effect on the claims of out-of-state plaintiffs in collective actions under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). To date, three United States Courts of Appeals have addressed the issue, reaching disparate results, while disagreements among the district courts cut across courts within the same judicial districts and circuits. This divided landscape highlights the need for further guidance from Congress and the Supreme Court to define the scope of specific personal jurisdiction in collective actions. This Note argues that to protect workers’ rights, promote uniformity and judicial efficiency across the nation, deter forum shopping, and support federalism, the Supreme Court, Congress, or both should formulate a clear rule granting district courts specific personal jurisdiction over employers in FLSA collective actions with respect to the claims of nonresident plaintiffs.
Anaid Reyes Kipp,
Jurisdiction at Work: Specific Personal Jurisdiction in FLSA Collective Actions After Bristol-Myers Squibb,
Ga. St. U. L. Rev.
Available at: https://readingroom.law.gsu.edu/gsulr/vol38/iss3/12