Monday, June 19, 2017

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of Cal., San Francisco Cty., Docket 16-466


Jurisdiction (personal): Standing: Class action: Res judicata:


The Court held that the defendant had standing to argue that the Kansas court had improperly exercised personal jurisdiction over the claims of the out-of-state class members because that holding materially affected the defendant’s own interests, specifically, the res judicata effect of an adverse judgment. Phillips Petroleum Co. v. Shutts, 472 U. S. 797, 803-806 (1985).


(U.S.S.C., June 19, 2017, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of Cal., San Francisco Cty., Docket 16-466, J. Alito (only J. Sotomayor filed a dissenting opinion)).


Un défendeur qui fait face à plusieurs demandeurs, certains hors de l'état du for, est recevable à contester ("standing" – injury in fact, causation, redressability) la compétence de la cour pour connaître des prétentions des demandeurs hors de l'état du for. En effet, reconnaître la compétence pour connaître de ces prétentions est susceptible d'affecter les intérêts du défendeur, découlant en particulier de l'effet de chose jugée d'un jugement qui lui serait défavorable.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of Cal., San Francisco Cty., Docket 16-466


Specific Jurisdiction: Due Process Clause: Fourteenth Amendment: Fifth Amendment: Federalism:


Reverses and remands 1Cal. 5th 783, 377 P. 3d 874 (S221038, August 29, 2016, Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Court of San Francisco County).


(…) We granted certiorari to decide whether the California courts’ exercise of jurisdiction in this case violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. 580 U. S. ___ (2017).

(California law provides that its courts may exercise jurisdiction “on any basis not inconsistent with the Constitution . . . of the United States,” Cal. Civ. Proc. Code Ann. §410.10 (West 2004)).

(…) Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, which “limits the power of a state court to render a valid personal judgment against a nonresident defendant,” World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U. S. 286, 291 (1980).

(…) The Due Process Clause, acting as an instrument of interstate federalism.

Our settled principles regarding specific jurisdiction control this case. In order for a court to exercise specific jurisdiction over a claim, there must be an “affiliation between the forum and the underlying controversy, prin­cipally, an activity or an occurrence that takes place in the forum State.” Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S. A. v. Brown, 564 U. S. 915, 919 (2011).

(…) Even regu­larly occurring sales of a product in a State do not justify the exercise of jurisdiction over a claim unrelated to those sales.

(…) What is needed—and what is missing here—is a connection between the forum and the specific claims at issue.

(…) Walden, 571 U. S., at ___ (slip op., at 8): In that case, Nevada plaintiffs sued an out-of-state defendant for conducting an allegedly unlawful search of the plaintiffs while they were in Georgia preparing to board a plane bound for Nevada. We held that the Nevada courts lacked specific jurisdiction even though the plain­tiffs were Nevada residents and “suffered foreseeable harm in Nevada.” Id., at ___ (slip op., at 11). Because the “relevant conduct occurred entirely in Georgia . . . the mere fact that this conduct affected plaintiffs with con­nections to the forum State did not suffice to authorize jurisdiction.” Id., at ___ (slip op., at 14).

In today’s case, the connection between the nonresi­dents’ claims and the forum is even weaker. The relevant plaintiffs are not California residents and do not claim to have suffered harm in that State. In addition, as in Wal­den, all the conduct giving rise to the nonresidents’ claims occurred elsewhere. It follows that the California courts cannot claim specific jurisdiction.

(…) (Keeton held that there was jurisdiction in New Hampshire to consider the full measure of the plaintiff ’s claim, but whether she could actually recover out-of-state damages was a merits question governed by New Hampshire libel law).

(Rush v. Savchuk, 444 U. S. 320, 332 (1980); see Walden, 571 U. S., at ___ (slip op, at 8) (“A defendant’s relationship with a . . . third party, standing alone, is an insufficient basis for jurisdiction”)).

(…) In addition, since our decision concerns the due process limits on the exer­cise of specific jurisdiction by a State, we leave open the question whether the Fifth Amendment imposes the same restrictions on the exercise of personal jurisdiction by a federal court. See Omni Capital Int’l, Ltd. v. Rudolf Wolff & Co., 484 U. S. 97, 102, n. 5 (1987).


(U.S.S.C., June 19, 2017, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of Cal., San Francisco Cty., Docket 16-466, J. Alito (only J. Sotomayor filed a dissenting opinion)).


Notion de "specific jurisdiction", telle que limitée par la Clause "Due Process" du Quatorzième Amendement, en cas de procédure devant le Tribunal d'un état, impliquant plusieurs demandeurs, certains domiciliés hors de l'état du for.

La Cour rappelle sa jurisprudence : un Tribunal est compétent s'il existe un lien entre le for et la prétention déduite en justice, par exemple suite à une activité ou à un événement qui s'est produit dans l'état du for. (En l'espèce, action de classe en Californie contre un fabricant de médicament. Les demandeurs californiens peuvent invoquer un dommage subi en Californie, suite à un achat du produit en Californie. Ces éléments ne peuvent pas être invoqués par les demandeurs domiciliés dans un autre état).

Des ventes régulières dans un état ne suffisent pas à fonder la compétence des Tribunaux de cet état si la prétention n'est pas liée aux ventes.

Dans une décision Walden, des demandeurs domiciliés au Nevada avaient agi devant le Tribunal du Nevada contre un défendeur domicilié en Géorgie. Les prétentions en dommages-intérêts découlaient d'une fouille prétendument illégale subie en Géorgie juste avant d'embarquer un vol à destination du Nevada. La Cour a jugé que les Tribunaux du Nevada n'étaient pas compétents (absence de "specific jurisdiction"), même si les demandeurs étaient résidents du Nevada et même s'ils subissaient un dommage dans cet état. La conduite relevante s'était en effet produite entièrement en Géorgie.

En l'espèce, la connexion entre les prétentions des demandeurs hors de l'état du for et le for lui-même est encore plus ténue que dans Walden. Ces demandeurs ne résident pas en Californie et n'ont pas subi de dommage dans cet état. En outre, comme dans Walden, la conduite à la base des prétentions s'est entièrement déroulée hors de l'état du for. Dès lors, les cours californiennes ne sont pas compétentes au sens de la "specific jurisdiction".

(Si la compétence est admise s'agissant de prétentions de parties demanderesses domiciliées hors de l'état du for, la question de savoir si ces demanderesses peuvent récupérer la totalité de leur préjudice subi hors de cet état est une question qui se juge à la lumière du droit de l'état du for, cf. décision Keeton).

(Les relations du défendeur avec un tiers, domicilié, lui, dans l'état du for, sont insuffisantes à conférer compétence spécifique).

La Cour laisse ouverte la question de savoir si le Cinquième Amendement impose à la compétence d'une cour fédérale les mêmes limites que celles décrites ci-dessus, qui ne concernent que la compétence spécifique des cours d'un état sous l'angle du Quatorzième Amendement.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Ryan v. Rosenfeld, S232582


Appeal: Dismissal: Motion to vacate: Postjudgment orders:



Is the denial of a motion to vacate the judgment under Code of Civil Procedure section 663 separately appealable?

Section 663 of the Code of Civil Procedure allows an aggrieved party in a civil case to move the trial court to vacate its final judgment. The question in this case is whether an order denying one of those motions is appealable even if it raises issues that could have been litigated via an appeal of the judgment. We answered yes to this question over a century ago. (See Bond v. United Railroads (1911) 159 Cal. 270, 273 (Bond).) Bond held that the statute authorizing appeals of postjudgment orders covered denials of section 663 motions.

The current version of that statute allows for the appeal of an order made after an appealable judgment. (Code Civ. Proc., § 904.1, subd. (a)(2).)

Orders denying motions to vacate under section 663 fit that description, and this court has always interpreted the language currently found in section 904.1, subdivision (a)(2), to make appealable all section 663 denials. The Legislature has done nothing to undermine or overturn that interpretation despite enacting over a dozen other changes to this very statutory scheme. So the rule announced in Bond remains valid.

(Here Ryan later filed a notice of appeal for both the order dismissing the case and the order denying his motion to vacate the judgment).

(Rosenfeld has argued in this court that Ryan‘s motion to vacate was improper because the motion did not seek entry of a judgment different from the one that was entered. We do not address this question, which may bear on whether Ryan filed a proper section 663 motion. The Court of Appeal may address the question on remand – fn. 1).



Secondary sources: Witkin, Cal. Procedure (5th ed. 2008) Appeal, § 200, p. 277; Eisenberg et al., Cal. Practice Guide: Civil Appeals and Writs (2014), p. 2-123.



(Cal.S.C. June 15, 2017, Ryan v. Rosenfeld, S232582).



Un jugement civil est entré en force, puis la partie perdante demande son annulation, par exemple par le biais d'une "motion to vacate" (Section 663 du Code californien de procédure civile). Si le Juge rejette dite motion, un appel peut-il être déposé (au sens de la Section 904.1, subd. (a)(2) du Code) ? La réponse est affirmative, même si les arguments à l'appui de l'appel auraient pu être plaidés dans le cadre d'un appel contre le premier jugement, entré en force. Plus généralement, tous les rejets de requêtes selon la Section 663 peuvent faire l'objet d'un appel.

Tel en a décidé la Cour Suprême de Californie dans une décision de 1911 déjà, confirmée ici, et qui n'a pas été modifiée à ce jour. Le législateur n'est pour sa part pas intervenu à cet égard.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Henson v. Santander Consumer USA Inc., Docket 16-349


Debt collection:


The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act: who exactly qualifies as a “debt collector” subject to the Act’s rigors?
1 ) someone hired by a creditor to collect an outstanding debt.
2 ) But what if you purchase a debt and then try to collect it for yourself—does that make you a “debt collector” too? The answer is no.

(…) Statutory language defining the term “debt collector”: anyone who “regularly collects or attempts to collect . . . debts owed or due . . . another.” 15 U. S. C. §1692a(6).

In the very definitional section where we now find ourselves working, Congress expressly differentiated between a person “who offers” credit (the originator) and a person “to whom a debt is owed” (the present debt owner). §1692a(4). Elsewhere, Congress recognized the distinction between a debt “origi­nated by” the collector and a debt “owed or due” another. §1692a(6)(F)(ii). And elsewhere still, Congress drew a line between the “original” and “current” creditor. §1692g(a)(5). Yet no similar distinction can be found in the language now before us. To the contrary, the statutory text at issue speaks not at all about originators and cur­rent debt owners but only about whether the defendant seeks to collect on behalf of itself or “another.” And, usually at least, when we’re engaged in the business of interpret­ing statutes we presume differences in language like this convey differences in meaning. See, e.g., Loughrin v. United States, 573 U. S. ___, ___ (2014).


(U.S.S.C., June 12, 2017, Henson v. Santander Consumer USA Inc., Docket 16-349, J Gorsuch, unanimous).


Recouvrement de créances. La loi fédérale sur le recouvrement équitable des créances, qui prévoit des pénalités sévères à l'encontre de celui qui ne s'y conforme pas, s'applique à celui qui recouvre pour un tiers, mais pas à celui qui recouvre pour lui-même ni à celui qui recouvre pour lui-même une créance acquise d'un tiers créancier.

La présente décision est la première rendue par le Juge Gorsuch.

Henson v. Santander Consumer USA Inc., Docket 16-349


Possession (definition):


As a matter of ordinary English, the word “obtained” can (and often does) refer to taking possession of a piece of property without also tak­ing ownership—so, for example, you might obtain a rental car or a hotel room or an apartment. See, e.g., Oxford English Dictionary 669 (2d ed. 1989) (defining “obtain” to mean, among other things, “to come into the possession or enjoyment of (something) by one’s own effort or by request”); Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 568 U. S. 519, 532–533 (2013) (distinguishing between ownership and obtaining possession).


(U.S.S.C., June 12, 2017, Henson v. Santander Consumer USA Inc., Docket 16-349, J Gorsuch, unanimous).


Une définition de la notion de possession ("possession") au regard de la définition de la notion de propriété ("ownership").


Henson v. Santander Consumer USA Inc., Docket 16-349


Interpretation (statute):


(…) Our usual presumption that “identical words used in different parts of the same statute” carry “the same mean­ing.” IBP, Inc. v. Alvarez, 546 U. S. 21, 34 (2005).

(…) See Magwood v. Patterson, 561 U. S. 320, 334 (2010) (“We cannot replace the actual text with speculation as to Congress’ intent”).

(…) Legislation is, after all, the art of compromise, the limitations expressed in statutory terms often the price of passage, and no statute yet known “pur­sues its stated purpose at all costs.” Rodri­guez v. United States, 480 U. S. 522, 525-526 (1987) (per curiam).

(…) The legis­lature says . . . what it means and means . . . what it says. Dodd v. United States, 545 U. S. 353, 357 (2005).


Secondary sources: P. Peters, The Cambridge Guide to English Usage 409 (2004); B. Garner, Modern English Usage 666 (4th ed. 2016); Oxford English Dictionary 669 (2d ed. 1989).


(U.S.S.C., June 12, 2017, Henson v. Santander Consumer USA Inc., Docket 16-349, J Gorsuch, unanimous).


Interprétation littérale d'une loi au sens formel. Considération des termes voisins dans la même loi.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Insurable interest: Sales of goods: UCC § 2-501


Insurable interest: Sales of goods: UCC § 2-501:


Insurable Interest in Goods; Manner of Identification of Goods.

(1) The buyer obtains a special property and an insurable interest in goods by identification of existing goods as goods to which the contract refers even though the goods so identified are non-conforming and he has an option to return or reject them. Such identification can be made at any time and in any manner explicitly agreed to by the parties. In the absence of explicit agreement identification occurs

(a) when the contract is made if it is for the sale of goods already existing and identified;
(b) if the contract is for the sale of future goods other than those described in paragraph (c), when goods are shipped, marked or otherwise designated by the seller as goods to which the contract refers;
(c) when the crops are planted or otherwise become growing crops or the young are conceived if the contract is for the sale of unborn young to be born within twelve months after contracting or for the sale of crops to be harvested within twelve months or the next normal harvest season after contracting whichever is longer.

(2) The seller retains an insurable interest in goods so long as title to or any security interest in the goods remains in him and where the identification is by the seller alone he may until default or insolvency or notification to the buyer that the identification is final substitute other goods for those identified.

(3) Nothing in this section impairs any insurable interest recognized under any other statute or rule of law.


Le contrat de vente portant sur des "goods" n'est pas régi par la Common law, mais par l'UCC. La Section 2-501 définit la notion d'intérêt assurable. La disposition est importante en cas de transport de la chose vendue.