In a little-noticed 8-0 decision, the Supreme Court just lodged a blow to large corporations. The rare, unanimous outcome marked a distinctly progressive pivot on a thorny jurisdictional question that has bedeviled plaintiffs in corporate liability cases for decades.
But the most significant effect of the decision might be the message it sends that the court, with its decisive 6-3 conservative majority, is not condemned to predictably partisan splits.
Ford Motor Co. v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court consolidated two cases brought in connection with accidents involving vehicles manufactured by the Ford Motor Company. The plaintiffs alleged that Ford was at fault, and brought the cases in the states where the accidents occurred and the motorists had resided: Montana and Minnesota. The Montana resident was killed when a tread separated from a rear tire of her 1996 Explorer, causing the SUV to land upside down in a ditch. The Minnesota resident suffered serious brain damage when, while a passenger in a 1994 Crown Victoria, his airbag failed to deploy after the driver rear-ended a snow plow.
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