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Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Lemaire

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division

May 11, 2017

WAL-MART STORES, INC., Petitioner,
v.
THE HONORABLE KERSTIN LEMAIRE, Judge of the SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF ARIZONA, in and for the County of MARICOPA, Respondent Judge, KATHI BUSS, Real Party in Interest.

         Petition for Special Action from the Superior Court in Maricopa County No. CV2016-003627 The Honorable Kerstin G. LeMaire, Judge

         JURISDICTION ACCEPTED, RELIEF GRANTED

          Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie, LLP, Phoenix By Craig W. Phillips, Lawrence A. Kasten, Jennifer Lee-Cota Counsel for Petitioner

          The Keating Law Firm, PLC, Scottsdale By Kevin R. Keating Counsel for Real Party in Interest

          Presiding Judge Peter B. Swann delivered the opinion of the court, in which Judge Kent E. Cattani and Judge Donn Kessler joined.

          OPINION

          SWANN, Judge

         ¶1 Kathi Buss sued Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., a company incorporated in Delaware with its principal place of business in Arkansas, in Arizona over a slip-and-fall accident that occurred at a store in Oregon. Wal-Mart filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, and the superior court, relying on our opinion in Bohreer v. Erie Insurance Exchange, 216 Ariz. 208 (App. 2007), denied it, finding Wal-Mart was subject to general jurisdiction in Arizona. Wal-Mart then filed a petition for special action.[1]

         ¶2 Because the facts of the case have no connection to Arizona, Wal-Mart can be sued here only if the Arizona courts have general jurisdiction over it. Buss maintains that Wal-Mart's pervasive presence and substantial business activities in Arizona are sufficient to create general jurisdiction, and any claim against Wal-Mart is therefore cognizable in Arizona. We disagree. In keeping with Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915 (2011), and Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S.Ct. 746 (2014), we hold that the magnitude of a corporation's business activities in Arizona is not sufficient to create general jurisdiction when that corporation is neither incorporated nor has its principal place of business in Arizona. We further hold that foreign corporations do not impliedly consent to general jurisdiction in Arizona merely by registering as foreign corporations and appointing agents for service of process under A.R.S. §§ 10-1501 to -1510. Wal-Mart therefore is subject only to specific jurisdiction in Arizona, and actions against it in the Arizona courts must relate to its activities in the state.

         JURISDICTION

         ¶3 Special action jurisdiction is discretionary, "reserved for 'extraordinary circumstances' and is not available 'where there is an equally plain, speedy, and adequate remedy by appeal.'" Stapert v. Ariz. Bd. of Psychologist Exam'rs, 210 Ariz. 177, 182, ¶ 21 (App. 2005) (citations omitted). We accept jurisdiction when, as here, "the motion [to dismiss] reveals an absence of jurisdiction, as an appeal inadequately remedies a trial court's improperly requiring a defense in a matter where it has no jurisdiction." Sigmund v. Rea, 226 Ariz. 373, 375, ¶ 5 (App. 2011) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).

         DISCUSSION

         ¶4 States may exercise two forms of personal jurisdiction. First, specific jurisdiction exists when the defendant establishes minimum contacts with the forum state by purposefully directing its activities to that state, and the litigation arises out of those activities. See Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 472 (1985). Second, general jurisdiction allows a forum state to hear any claim against the defendant, even when the facts giving rise to it have no connection to the forum. Goodyear, 564 U.S. at 919. General jurisdiction exists over a corporation in several circumstances. For example, a corporation is subject to general jurisdiction in the state in which it is incorporated, the state in which it has its principal place of business, id. at 924, a state in which it has consented to general jurisdiction, see id. at 928, a state in which its "affiliations with the State are so 'continuous and systematic' as to render [it] essentially at home in the forum State, " id. at 919 (citation omitted), and in other states in "exceptional cases" where circumstances make general jurisdiction appropriate, see Daimler, 134 S.Ct. at 761 n.19.

         ¶5 Because this case arises entirely out of Wal-Mart's activities in Oregon, Arizona courts lack specific jurisdiction. The sole issue in this special action is the extent to which Arizona may exercise general jurisdiction over foreign corporations. Buss suggests two theories to support general jurisdiction over Wal-Mart in Arizona: (1) by appointing an agent for service of process, it has consented to general jurisdiction, and (2) the sheer magnitude of Wal-Mart's ...


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