The Supreme Court overturned a ruling that required three overseas units of Goodyear Tire & Rubber to face a lawsuit filed by the families of two North Carolina teenagers killed in a bus wreck in France.
The ruling was one of two issued Monday that may give foreign companies and subsidiaries a stronger shield against legal claims filed in U.S. courts.
A North Carolina state appeals court said the Goodyear units had enough of a connection to the state to put them within the jurisdiction of the courts there, even though the accident took place elsewhere.
The Supreme Court has said in past cases that, under the Constitution, defendants can be sued only in states where they have significant contacts.
Julian Brown and Matt Helms, both 13, were killed in 2004 when a tire on their bus allegedly blew out, causing the vehicle to crash into a concrete wall. They were in France to play in youth soccer tournaments.
Goodyear contended that its three units make tires primarily for European and Asian markets and that the tire at issue was never distributed in North Carolina.
In a second case resolved Monday, the Supreme Court said an English manufacturer cannot be sued over a New Jersey accident involving one of the company’s metal-shearing machines.
Robert Nicastro sought to sue J. McIntyre Machinery after the machine severed four of his fingers in 2001.
The company contended that it never sought to sell its products in New Jersey. The New Jersey Supreme Court said it was enough that the company had distributed its machines elsewhere in the United States, putting them into the “stream of commerce.”