Tuesday, September 4, 2018
Aggregation — the ability to join parties or claims in a federal civil lawsuit — has usually been governed by subject-matter jurisdiction, claim and issue preclusion, and the joinder rules. These doctrines have tended to favor aggregation because of its efficiency, consistency, and predictability. Yet aggregation is suddenly under attack from a new threat, one that has little to do with aggregation directly: personal jurisdiction. In this Article, I chronicle how a recent restrictive turn to personal jurisdiction — especially though modern cases narrowing general jurisdiction and last Term’s blockbuster case Bristol-Myers Squibb — threatens the salutary benefits of aggregation across a number of areas, including simple joinder of parties and claims, representative actions, and multidistrict litigation. I offer a solution for preserving aggregation’s advantages in the face of the personal-jurisdiction trend: authorize a broader personal-jurisdiction scope in federal court for certain multiparty and multiclaim cases that would benefit from aggregation. I defend such a regime as constitutional and consistent with the norms of both personal jurisdiction and aggregation.