Roger Alford on 9th Circuit ATS Personal Jurisdiction Case:

Roger Alford has a post up at Opinio Juris commenting on the recent 9th Circuit opinion in Bauman v. Daimler-Chrysler AG. A 9th Circuit panel held last week in this case that the court did not have

personal jurisdiction over DaimlerChrysler Corporation AG because [corporation] did not have continuous and systematic contacts with the forum. The case of Bauman v. DaimlerChrysler AG arose out of the alleged kidnapping, detention and torture of Argentinian citizens in Argentina by Argentinian state security forces acting at the direction of Mercedes Benz Argentina. The plaintiffs sued the parent company, DaimlerChrysler AG, and the Ninth Circuit concluded that it lacked personal jurisdiction.

As Roger explains, given the facts, this conclusion is not at all surprising. More surprising, as he goes on to explain, is Judge Stephen Reinhardt's dissent, in which he argues that

promoting international human rights was a state interest that should factor into a finding of personal jurisdiction. Reinhardt first concluded that DaimlerChrysler AG had minimum contacts in the forum through its American subsidiary. He then examined whether it was reasonable to assert jurisdiction based on seven factors, including "the state's interest in adjudicating the suit."

This looks very much, Roger adds, like a forum non conveniens argument "dressed up as an assertion of personal jurisdiction." Indeed. However, a reason I was interested in reading this opinion is that much of my attention in Alien Tort Statute jurisdiction issues runs to subject matter jurisdiction and to whether the plaintiffs arguments make out bona fide Sosa violations of the law of nations, and whether the jurisidictional subject matter is met if the claimed violator is a corporation. I thus found it interesting to see a discussion of what kinds of contacts are required to reach personal jurisdiction, and then what the standard of reasonableness for the assertion of personal jurisdiction.

Update: Here's a short, interesting piece by Josh Goodman in the Harvard International Law Journal Online, proposing a way to resolve issues of aiding and abetting liability under the ATS, reaching to administrative law models. I have only read it quickly, and haven't formulated a firm view, but if you follow ATS issues, I'd say it's worth reading.