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BNSF Railway Co. v. Tyrrell

The Montana Supreme Court held that the state’s courts had personal jurisdiction over defendant BNSF Railway Company to adjudicate Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) claims brought by an injured worker and another worker’s widow because (1) FELA permitted them to do so where BNSF was “doing business” in Montana and (2) the state’s long-arm statute encompassed BNSF for the purpose of these disputes. BNSF contended that this exercise of personal jurisdiction violated its Fourteenth Amendment due process rights under the standard for assessing general jurisdiction set forth in Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S. Ct. 746 (2014). Co-counseling for the plaintiff in the U.S. Supreme Court through our Supreme Court Assistance Project, we drafted the brief in opposition to a petition for certiorari. After the Supreme Court granted the petition, we served as lead counsel on the merits. The Court, however, disagreed with our position and reversed the decision of the Montana Supreme Court.