Asahi Metal Industry Co. v. Superior Court
Yeazell, p. 129-135
Facts: A man got into a motorcycle
accident and sued Cheng Shin for product liability. Cheng Shin filed a third-party complaint in
moved to quash Cheng Shin’s summons, saying
Issue: Does Asahi have minimum
Rule: The majority agrees with the five factor test for “fair play”: (1) burden on the defendant, (2) interests of the forum state, (3) interest of the plaintiff, (4) interstate efficiency, and (5) interstate policy interests.
Analysis: The Court finds that fair play would be violated because:
1. The burden on
the defendant is “severe” because the corporation would have to travel from
2. The plaintiff
is not a
3. Cheng Shin has
not shown that
4. Jurisdiction is not necessarily in the best interests of the other countries involved.
5. Jurisdiction is not warranted by any international policy considerations, if they even exist.
The court disagrees about whether there are minimum contacts. Some of the justices believe that in another case with the same contacts but more fair play jurisdiction could hold.
Conclusion: The judgment of the California
Supreme Court is reversed and
Notes and Problems
1. Let’s straighten it out!
a. It appears that only Part I was unanimous, while Part II-B commanded an 8-1 majority. Parts II-A and III were actually only approved by four of the nine justices.
b. Part II-A says there were no minimum contacts. Part III asserts both that there were no minimum contacts and no fair play. I believe that the majority that went again these two parts believed that there were minimum contacts, yet no fair play.
c. Justice Scalia must have believed that there weren’t minimum contacts but there was fair play, or else he disagreed with the application of the five factor test.
d. Looks like lower courts can do whatever they want in the absence of a majority. When the cat’s away, the mice will play. The Court may not find it desirable to reach a majority opinion. Rather, they might seek to leave certain issues up to the judgment of regional courts that know their area of jurisdiction best.
2. Would the outcome have changed?
a. If Asahi had
b. If Asahi was a
primary defendant, we would presume that Mr. Zurcher
would be the plaintiff. That means in
the fair play realm, the plaintiff’s convenience interest and
c. Again, I think in this case the interests of plaintiff and forum would be greater, but the burden on the defendant would be too great.
d. There could be
no doubt in this case that minimum contacts were present. However, I don’t know if the court would be
swayed as far as the fair play factors. There would be a greater forum interest and
arguably less burden on the defendant, since they would be set up to do
business directly in
e. This would
affect the fair play interest in a convenient forum for the plaintiffs. Cheng Shin would still have to demonstrate,
however, that the
3. I believe
Dealer will be subject to personal jurisdiction since the Dealer appears to be
4. “Substantial justice and fair play” is no longer merely a descriptor for the minimum contacts necessary to gain jurisdiction, but rather an independent test.