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American Telephone & Telegraph Co. v. Compagnie Bruxelles Lambert: A New Line of Defense for Parent Corporations

September 1997

Citation: 27 ELR 10450

Issue: 9

Author: Steven F. Baicker-McKee

Editors' Summary: With their often substantial assets, parent corporations make attractive targets for parties seeking to remedy environmental harm. However, by challenging a court's jurisdiction over the parent, the parent may force a change of forum or, ultimately, a dismissal of the claims. This Article examines the scope of a parent's liabilities for the actions of its subsidiaries and discusses the jurisdictional issues. The author surveys several district court cases that involve challenges to personal jurisdiction and analyzes the Ninth Circuit's decision in American Telephone & Telegraph Co. v. Compagnie Bruxelles Lambert. He concludes that contesting personal jurisdiction may be a useful strategy for corporations that are sued for the environmental liabilities of theiir subsidiaries.

The author is a shareholder in the litigation group of Babst, Calland, Clements & Zomnir. He received his B.A. from Yale University in 1980, and his J.D. from Marshall-Whythe School of Law, College of William and Mary, in 1987. Mr. Baicker-McKee is also the author of FEDERAL CIVIL RULES HANDBOOK (1996), a guide to the rules of civil procedure for litigation in federal court.

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