Helicopteros Nacionales de Columbia, S.A. v. Hall
466 U.S. 408, 414, (1985)
Helicopteros was a Colombian
corporation that entered into a contract to provide helicopter
transportation for a Peruvian consortium as part of a joint venture that
had its headquarters in Texas.
Helicopteros had no place of
business in Texas and had never been licensed to do business there.
They had a few minor
contacts with Texas including:
Sending its CEO to Texas
to negotiate the contract with the consortium,
Accepting checks drawn by
the consortium on a Texas bank
equipment, and training services from a Texas manufacturer, and
Sending pilots to Texas
After a helicopter owned by
Helicopteros crashed in Peru, resulting in the death of Hall's decedents,
Hall sued the consortium, the Texas manufacturer, and Helicopteros in a
Texas court. Helicopteros objected, claiming that the Texas State Court
did not have jurisdiction.
Hall argued that
Helicopteros was liable due to general jurisdiction, they did not make a claim of specific
The Trial Court found that
they did have jurisdiction and found for Hall. Helicopteros appealed.
The Texas Appellate Court
reversed. Hall appealed.
The Texas Appellate Court
found that they did not have in personam jurisdiction over Helicopteros.
The Texas Supreme Court
reversed the decision. Helicopteros appealed.
The Texas Supreme Court felt
Helicopteros' contacts were enough to establish in personam
The Court found that that
the purchases and training trips = sufficient contacts.
The US Supreme Court reversed
The US Supreme Court found
Helicopteros' contacts with Texas (listed above) were insufficient to be
considered "continuous and systematic" contacts and so satisfy
the requirements of the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment.
To establish general
jurisdiction there must be contact
of a "continuous and systematic" nature.
In a dissent, it was argued
that unlike several similar previous cases, Helicopteros contact with
Texas was directly related to the lawsuit, therefore it would be fair and
reasonable to assert jurisdiction.
The dissent felt that there
was a different between contacts that were "related to" the
underlying cause of action, and cases that "give rise" to the
underlying cause of action.
This case had a different
standard than the one used in International Shoe v. Washington (326 U.S. 310 (1945)) because in that case,
they were claiming specific jurisdiction, while in this case
they were claiming general jurisdiction.
General jurisdiction is not related to the facts of the specific
case, but more related to where you are domiciled or incorporated.
If the contact with a State
is "pervasive," the court can find that there is general
jurisdiction, even if there is no
specific connection between the State and the facts of the case.
There has only been one US
Supreme Court case where they have decided that there was general
jurisdiction, Perkins v. Benguet Consolidated Mining Co (342 US 437 (1952)). There have been some lower court rulings,
but for the most part, the courts have shied away from general
jurisdiction, the cause of action
must "arise out of" the contact with the State. For example,
if the helicopter crash had occurred in Texas, there would be no question
that the cause of action arose in Texas and there would be no question of
But this case involved a
Columbian company being sued based on an accident that happened in Peru.
Hall's lawyers didn't feel that they could win a specific jurisdiction in this case, so they decided to try and
prove that Helicopteros has enough contacts in Texas that they are
generally subject to Texas law.