Opinion of the Court
constitutional prerogatives if it were to give so much weight to the interests of plaintiffs as to allow them to sue in the counties of their choice under all circumstances. It is equally clear that a State might temper such an "any county" rule to the extent a reasonable assessment of defendants' interests so justified.
Here, Montana has decided that the any-county rule should give way to a single-county rule where a defendant resides in Montana, arguably on the reasonable ground that a defendant should not be subjected to a plaintiff's tactical advantage of forcing a trial far from the defendant's residence. At the same time, Montana has weighed the interest of a defendant who does not reside in Montana differently, arguably on the equally reasonable ground that for most nonresi-dent defendants the inconvenience will be great whether they have to defend in, say, Billings or Havre. See Power Manufacturing Co. v. Saunders, 274 U. S. 490, 498 (1927) (Holmes, J., dissenting). Montana could thus have decided that a nonresident defendant's interest in convenience is too slight to outweigh the plaintiff's interest in suing in the forum of his choice.
Burlington does not, indeed, seriously contend that such a decision is constitutionally flawed as applied to individual nonresident defendants. Nor does it argue that such a rule is unconstitutional even when applied to corporate defendants without a fixed place of business in Montana. Burlington does claim, however, that the rule is unconstitutional as applied to a corporate defendant like Burlington that not only has its home office in some other State or country, but also has a place of business in Montana that would qualify as its "principal place of business" if it were a Montana corporation.
Burlington's claim fails. Montana could reasonably have determined that a corporate defendant's home office is generally of greater significance to the corporation's convenience in litigation than its other offices, that foreign corporationsPage: Index Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Next
Last modified: October 4, 2007