Wednesday, March 11, 2020
Yesterday the D.C. Circuit issued its decision in Molock v. Whole Foods Market Group, Inc. The case raises important questions about personal jurisdiction in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Bristol-Myers decision, particularly whether Bristol-Myers applies to class actions filed in federal court. The panel majority, however, found that it would be premature to address that issue. Judge Tatel’s majority opinion, joined by Judge Garland, begins:
In this not yet certified class action, the defendant moved to dismiss all nonresident putative class members for lack of personal jurisdiction. The district court denied the motion on the merits. We affirm, but on alternative grounds. Absent class certification, putative class members are not parties before a court, rendering the defendant’s motion premature.
Judge Silberman writes a dissenting opinion, which begins:
The majority disposes of this appeal by concluding that Whole Foods’ motion to dismiss was premature, notwithstanding the plaintiffs’ repeated failure to raise the issue to the district court. I would not excuse that forfeiture. * * * Because I would reach the Bristol-Myers question and hold that class claims unrelated to Whole Foods’ contacts with the District of Columbia cannot proceed, I respectfully dissent.