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Burger King v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462 (1985), is a notable case in United Statesmarker civil procedure that came before the Supreme Court of the United Statesmarker addressing personal jurisdiction.


John Rudzewicz was a citizen and resident of the state of Michiganmarker and was the senior partner in a Detroitmarker accounting firm. He was approached by Brian MacShara, the son of a business acquaintance, who suggested that they open a Burger King franchise together. The parties eventually reached an agreement whereby Rudzewicz provided the necessary capital and MacShara assumed the responsibility of managing the restaurant. The partners agreed to share profits equally.

Rudzewicz and MacShara applied jointly to Burger King's district office in Birmingham, Michigan in the fall of 1978. The application was forwarded to Burger King's office in Miami, Florida and the parties reached a preliminary agreement in February, 1979. MacShara attended the prescribed management courses at Burger King University in Miami in order to learn to operate a Burger King franchise. The partners purchased $165,000 in restaurant equipment from Davmor Industries, a Burger King corporate division located in Miami.

Under the franchise agreement, Rudzewicz and MacShara were to remit their franchise fees and royalties to Burger King's Floridamarker headquarters. Due to an economic downturn, the defendants were unable to make their monthly payments to Burger King, prompting the Florida-based corporation to file a lawsuit in Florida for breach of contract and tortious infringement of Burger King's trademarks and servicemarks through the defendants' unauthorized operation as a Burger King restaurant after the defendants received notice to vacate the premises.


Burger King brought a diversity action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a) against the defendants in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida in May 1981. Burger King also invoked the Court's original jurisdiction over disputes arising under federal trademark law pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1338(a). The District Court held that Florida had jurisdiction because of a statute that allowed the state to extend jurisdiction to anyone breaching a contract within the state. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reversed the lower court's decision finding that even though the defendants had minimum contacts with Florida, to exercise jurisdiction over the defendants would be fundamentally unfair and thus violate the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Burger King then appealed to the Supreme Court.


The Supreme Court concluded that the defendants purposefully availed themselves of the protections of the forum state (Florida) and were, therefore, subject to jurisdiction there. The Court reasoned that the defendants had a "substantial and continuing" relationship with Burger King in Florida and that due process would not be violated because the defendants should have reasonably anticipated being summoned into court in Florida for breach of contract.


In a dissent joined by Justice Byron Raymond White, Justice John Paul Stevens argued that Rudzewicz had never been to Florida and had no business established in Florida. Rudzewicz could not have anticipated being summoned into court in Florida, and it violates the due process clause to require a small businessman in Michigan to have to make an appearance in a court in Florida to present his defense.

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