Brooklyn Law Review


Max D. Lovrin


Personal jurisdiction is a threshold requirement for any civil court’s constitutional exercise of adjudicative authority over a defendant, and one of civil procedure’s most fundamental concepts. The Supreme Court is acutely aware of difficulties facing personal jurisdiction doctrine in an evolving world and the need for jurisprudential solutions to those problems. But recent inconsistent trends in Supreme Court personal jurisdiction jurisprudence have served to further complicate the doctrine. Such overcomplication often leads to unpredictability, which both increases expenses for litigants and creates additional work for the already overburdened federal civil docket. This problem is exacerbated when litigation arises out of a defendant’s online conduct, largely because much of our existing personal jurisdiction jurisprudence is grounded in concepts of physicality and a tactile connection between a judicial forum, a defendant, and a claim. Drawing on the concept of limited pretrial jurisdiction exercised by courts in multidistrict litigation, this note proposes changes to the existing federal venue statutes and relevant federal civil procedure rules that would allow for federal courts to exercise limited pretrial internet jurisdiction in cases arising out of defendants’ alleged web-based conduct. This practical framework will allow parties to litigate their actual claims rather than spending exorbitant time and money litigating the threshold issue of personal jurisdiction.