In its 2017 decision in Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of Cal., the U.S. Supreme Court held that a state court could not exercise specific personal jurisdiction over nonresident plaintiffs’ claims against a nonresident company. Left unresolved by the Court was whether its decision, handed down in a mass tort action, applied to class actions under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 and whether it applied to collective actions, as authorized by the Fair Labor Standards Act Section 216(b) and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

In the intervening years, federal district courts have issued conflicting rulings on Bristol-Myers’ applicability to each. In 2021, several federal appeals courts weighed in. Now, with a January 13, 2022, decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, a circuit split exists with respect to the applicability of Bristol-Myers to collective actions.

In Waters v. Day & Zimmermann NPS, Inc., the First Circuit affirmed a Massachusetts federal court’s order denying an employer’s motion to dismiss out-of-state opt-in plaintiffs for lack of personal jurisdiction. Hearing the case on an interlocutory appeal, a divided panel held that nonresident employees could join an FLSA overtime collective action.

Leaders of our Class Actions and Complex Litigation Practice Group discuss the First Circuit decision here.