Law School Resources
INSURANCE CORP. OF IRELAND, LTD. et al., Petitioners, 456 U.S.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(b)(2)(A) provides that a
district court, as a sanction for failure to comply with discovery orders, may
enter "[a]n order that the matters regarding which the [discovery] order was
made or any other designated facts shall be taken to be established for the
purposes of the action in accordance with the claim of the party obtaining the
order." Asserting diversity jurisdiction, respondent, a Delaware corporation
with its principal place of business in the Republic of Guinea, filed suit
against various insurance companies in the United States District Court for the
Western District of Pennsylvania to recover on a business interruption policy.
When certain of the defendants (a group of foreign insurance companies,
including petitioners) raised the defense of lack of personal jurisdiction,
respondent attempted to use discovery in order to establish jurisdictional
facts. After petitioners repeatedly failed to comply with the court's orders for
production of the requested information, the court warned them that unless they
complied by a specified date, it would assume, pursuant to Rule 37(b)(2)(A),
that it had personal jurisdiction. When petitioners again failed to comply, the
court imposed the sanction, and the Court of Appeals affirmed, concluding that
imposition of the sanction fell within the trial court's discretion under Rule
37(b)(2)(A) and that the sanction did not violate petitioners' due process
1. Rule 37(b)(2)(A) may be applied to support a finding of
personal jurisdiction without violating due process. Unlike subject-matter
jurisdiction, which is an Art. III as well as a statutory requirement, the
requirement that a court have personal jurisdiction flows from the Due Process
Clause and protects an individual liberty interest. Because it protects an
individual interest, it may be intentionally waived, or for various reasons a
defendant may be estopped from raising the issue. Due process is violated by a
rule establishing legal consequences of a failure to produce evidence only if
the defendant's behavior will not support the presumption that "the refusal to
produce evidence material to the administration of due process was but an
admission of the want of merit in the asserted defense." Hammond Packing Co.
v. Arkansas, 212 U.S. 322, 351, 29 S.Ct. 370, 380, 53 L.Ed. 530. A proper
application of Rule 37(b)(2)(A) will, as a matter of law, support such a
presumption. Pp. 701-707.
2. The District
Court did not abuse its discretion in applying Rule 37(b)(2)(A) in this case.
The record establishes that imposition of the sanction here satisfied the Rule's
requirements that the sanction be both "just" and specifically related to the
particular "claim" that was at issue in the discovery order.