On Aug. 2, in KM Enterprises, Inc. v. Global Traffic Technologies, Inc., the 7th Circuit ruled that antitrust plaintiffs are prohibited from picking and choosing jurisdictional rules in order to sue corporate defendants throughout the country. The appeal called upon the 7th Circuit to determine whether the Clayton Act’s provisions for nationwide service-of-process and venue must be read together. If the two provisions must be read together, then venue would only be proper where a defendant is incorporated, “is found” or does business. If the provisions can be split, plaintiffs could pair favorable antitrust personal jurisdiction rules with the normal federal rules permitting venue in any district where a court has personal jurisdiction over a defendant.
Wading in to a circuit split, the 7th Circuit agreed with the approach previously reached by the 2nd and D.C. Circuits and concluded that the provisions must be read together and that antitrust plaintiffs must comply with the specific venue limitations under the Clayton Act. The 7th Circuit reached this result after noting that splitting the rules would create “some very odd results” that would seem to go against congressional intent to create specialized venue rules for cases bringing claims under the Clayton Act.