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Case Digest: Mallory v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co.

Case Digest: Mallory v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co.
Mallory v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co. centers on the question of personal jurisdiction, specifically whether a company consents to jurisdiction in a state by registering to do business there. The key doctrine established is the affirmation of the principle that such registration constitutes consent to be sued in that state, in line with the Due Process Clause.


This case involves Robert Mallory's lawsuit against his former employer, Norfolk Southern, over a cancer diagnosis he attributed to his work. The decision explores the interplay between state business registration, personal jurisdiction, and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Facts of the Case:

Robert Mallory, a former Norfolk Southern employee, sued the company for cancer he believed resulted from his employment. Mallory worked in Ohio and Virginia and filed the lawsuit in Pennsylvania, where Norfolk Southern operates extensively. The company contested, arguing that a Pennsylvania court exercising jurisdiction would violate the Due Process Clause, given Mallory’s Virginia residence and exposure to carcinogens in Ohio and Virginia​​.

Issue of the Case:

The issue was whether Norfolk Southern’s registration to do business in Pennsylvania and its substantial operations there constituted consent to the jurisdiction of Pennsylvania courts, consistent with the Due Process Clause.

Ruling of the Case:

The Supreme Court held that Norfolk Southern, by registering and operating extensively in Pennsylvania, consented to jurisdiction in the state's courts. This decision upheld the longstanding principle from Pennsylvania Fire Ins. Co. v. Gold Issue Mining & Milling Co. that registration to do business in a state implies consent to be sued there, aligning with the Due Process Clause​​.

The ruling reaffirms the concept of consent-based jurisdiction and clarifies its standing alongside the International Shoe Co. v. Washington framework for personal jurisdiction. It emphasizes the importance of a corporation's actions, such as registration and extensive operations within a state, in determining jurisdictional consent​​.


Mallory v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co. is a pivotal case affirming that a company’s decision to register and conduct substantial business in a state is a form of legal consent to jurisdiction in that state's courts. This decision underscores the balance between corporate operations, state laws, and constitutional due process rights.