The Ames Competition is one of the most prestigious competitions for appellate brief writing and advocacy in the country. Students participating in the Final Round started the competition in the fall of their 2L year.  From there, two teams progress to the Final Round through their strong research abilities and excellent written and oral advocacy. The Final Round is traditionally judged by this country’s preeminent jurists. Past Ames Competition winners include Professor Cass Sunstein, Dean Kathleen Sullivan, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, and Justice Harry Blackmun. Click here for a list of past winners of the Competition.

The teams that competed in the 2021 Ames Final Round are below, as well as a summary of the case and the briefs submitted for the Final Round.

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The Carrie E. Buck Memorial Team (Petitioner)

John Acton

Jason Altabet*

Matt J. Bendisz

Ryan Dunbar

Maria Huryn

Fenella McLuskie*

The Lila A. Fenwick Memorial Team (Respondent)

Chinyere Amanze*

Avita Anand

Reagan Chrisco

Sarah Maher

Morgan Sandhu*

Mariah Watson

*Oralist

Charles Artiss v. Westlake Pharmaceuticals, Inc. 

This appeal is about two kinds of personal jurisdiction: specific jurisdiction, which exists when a plaintiff’s claims arise out of or relate to the defendant’s contacts with the forum State; and consent jurisdiction, which exists when a defendant manifests consent, either implicitly or explicitly, to jurisdiction in the State.

Charles Artiss sued Westlake Pharmaceuticals, a Delaware company, alleging defects in Westlake’s design and label of an anti-anxiety medicine. The wrinkle is that the drug that injured Artiss was not manufactured or sold by Westlake, but instead by one of Westlake’s generic competitors, which is required by federal law to mimic Westlake’s design and label. This theory of liability, known as “design liability” or “innovator liability,” is accepted in the State of Ames.

Artiss asserts two bases for personal jurisdiction. First, he argues that Westlake is subject to specific personal jurisdiction because, under the Supreme Court’s decision in Ford Motor Co. v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court, 141 S. Ct. 1017 (2021), there is no need for a causal connection between Westlake’s contacts and Artiss’s claim; it is enough that Westlake has robust, germane contacts with the forum (e.g., it sells its medicine there, has an office there, and advertises there). Second, he cites an Ames statute providing that “[i]ncorporation, registration, or carrying on continuous business” in Ames “is hereby conditioned upon consent to jurisdiction by the State’s courts.” Artiss argues that because Westlake is registered and does business in Ames, it has consented to jurisdiction.

The Supreme Court of Ames ruled in Westlake’s favor, finding the connection between Westlake’s contacts and Artiss’s claims too remote to support personal jurisdiction, and holding that Ames’s statute is unconstitutional insofar as it effectively creates general personal jurisdiction where the Supreme Court in Daimler AG v. Bauman, 571 U.S. 117 (2014), found none. Artiss sought certiorari, which was granted on both issues.