In 2015, one Markkaya Jean Gullett was involved in a fatal crash involving a Ford Explorer. One of her tires gave up the ghost, and caused her to lose control of the car. Gullett’s estate sued Ford Motor Company (FoMoCo) in Montana, blaming a design flaw, which seems ironic since the tire failed and not the part FoMoCo actually designed and manufactured. Like seriously, why not go after the tire company?
Ford requested dismissal for lack of jurisdiction. They were like, “We didn’t design shit in Montana, we didn’t do anything that killed this person in Montana, we’ve never even fucking been to Montana. So no way is this shit for them to decide. Besides, you’re not even a real fucking state. What is it, like….50 people live here or some shit?”
As noted by Oyez:
Ford Motor Co. has its headquarters in Michigan and is incorporated in Delaware. Ford assembled the vehicle in Kentucky and first sold it to a dealership in Washington State. The dealership then sold it to an Oregon resident, who later sold the vehicle to a purchaser who brought it to Montana.
But Montana was like, “You run your stupid fucking ads in Montana. And, you have licensed dealers in Montana. So fuck you, you’re doing business here. We can handle this shit, and we have every right to.” Basically they were being the little state that could.
So here we are at SCOTUS to determine if a state court can give itself such jurisdiction when the actions that are in question, in this case the design of the car, didn’t take place in that state.
In a unanimous decision, SCOTUS decided with Montana over Ford. Saying essentially, “You fucking sell cars in Montana through licensed dealers, so you do business in the fucking state. It’s not like she took it somewhere illegally it wasn’t supposed to go. So go fuck yourself. Montana can have at it.
Now that this is settled, Montana can tell her family to sue the tire company, and leave Ford out of it.
Read about the case, and hear oral arguments at Oyez, here.