Burlington Northern R. Co. v. Ford, 504 U.S. 648, 6 (1992)

Page:   Index   Previous  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  Next

Cite as: 504 U. S. 648 (1992)

Opinion of the Court

are unlikely to have their principal offices in Montana, and that Montana's domestic corporations will probably keep headquarters within the State. We cannot say, at least not on this record, that any of these assumptions is irrational. Cf. G. D. Searle & Co. v. Cohn, 455 U. S. 404, 410 (1982); Metropolitan Casualty Ins. Co. v. Brownell, 294 U. S. 580, 585 (1935). And upon them Montana may have premised the policy judgment, which we find constitutionally unimpeachable, that only the convenience to a corporate defendant of litigating in the county containing its home office is sufficiently significant to outweigh a plaintiff's interest in suing in the county of his choice.

Of course Montana's venue rules would have implemented that policy judgment with greater precision if they had turned on the location of a corporate defendant's principal place of business, not on its State of incorporation. But this is hardly enough to make the rules fail rational-basis review, for "rational distinctions may be made with substantially less than mathematical exactitude." New Orleans v. Dukes, 427 U. S. 297, 303 (1976); see Hughes v. Alexandria Scrap Corp., 426 U. S. 794, 814 (1976); Lindsley v. Natural Carbonic Gas Co., 220 U. S. 61, 78 (1911). Montana may reasonably have thought that the location of a corporate defendant's principal place of business would not be as readily verifiable as its State of incorporation, that a rule hinging on the former would invite wasteful sideshows of venue litigation, and that obviating the sideshows would be worth the loss in precision. These possibilities, of course, put Burlington a far cry away from the point of discharging its burden of showing that the underinclusiveness and overinclusiveness of Montana's venue rules is so great that the rules can no longer be said rationally to implement Montana's policy judgment. See, e. g., Brownell, supra, at 584. Besides, Burlington, having headquarters elsewhere, would not benefit even from a scheme based on domicile, and is therefore in no position to complain of Montana's using State of incorporation as a surrogate for


Page:   Index   Previous  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  Next

Last modified: October 4, 2007