Category: Personal Jurisdiction

Passengers on Litigation Tourism Train Get Review from Supreme Court

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The United States Supreme Court will soon consider whether the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits a state from requiring that a corporation consent to personal jurisdiction in order to conduct business there.

The question arises from a Pennsylvania Supreme Court case, Mallory v. Norfolk Southern Railroad Co., 266 A.3d 542 (Pa. 2021), which we wrote about here.  In Mallory, plaintiff Robert Mallory attempted to hold the Norfolk Southern Railway Co. liable for the colon cancer he allegedly developed after being exposed to chemicals during the two decades that he worked for the railroad in Virginia and Ohio.

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Pennsylvania Rejects Corporate Registration as Basis for Personal Jurisdiction

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A recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court opinion provides out-of-state corporations more protection from litigation tourists, bringing the state’s general personal jurisdiction rules in line with U.S. Supreme Court precedent. In Mallory v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co., a unanimous court invalidated part of Pennsylvania’s corporate registration statute, holding that corporations that are not incorporated and do not have a principal place of business in Pennsylvania cannot be subject to general personal jurisdiction simply because they have registered to conduct business in the Commonwealth.

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LG Chem Secures a Second Look at Jurisdictional Issues in NJ Vape Battery Suit

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The New Jersey Appellate Division has held that Korean company LG Chem Ltd. (“LG Chem”)will have another opportunity to dispute New Jersey’s jurisdiction over it in a product liability lawsuit concerning a vaping device battery.  The decision is based, in part, on the trial court’s failure to order jurisdictional discovery and convene an evidentiary hearing to resolve the disputed jurisdictional allegations before deciding LG Chem’s pre-answer motion to dismiss.  This case underscores that in New Jersey, the standard governing motions to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, unlike other bases, requires the court to look outside the disputed pleadings alone.

The New Jersey plaintiff alleged he was injured when a lithium-ion battery manufactured by LG Chem exploded in his pocket.  Plaintiff attempted to serve process on LG Chem through two of its U.S.-based subsidiaries, LG Chem America, Inc. (LGCAI) and LG Chem Michigan, Inc. (LGCMI).  The agents of both refused to accept service.

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Foreign Manufacturer Dismissed for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction in the Southern District of Indiana

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Case:

Patterson v. Chiappa Firearms, USA, LTD, No. 1:20-cv-01430-JPH-MG, 2021 WL 4287431 (S.D. Ind. Sept. 21, 2021).

Significance:

  • First Indiana case to apply the “relate to” standard articulated in Ford Motor Co. v. Mont. Eighth Jud. Dist. Ct., 141 S. Ct. 1017 (2021).
  • Rejects a broad, unlimited stream of commerce theory for establishing personal jurisdiction.
  • Denied plaintiff jurisdictional discovery, noting that foreign nationals should not be subjected to extensive discovery in order to determine whether personal jurisdiction over them exists.

Case Analysis:

In Patterson v. Chiappa Firearms, the plaintiff, an Indiana citizen, bought a handgun from an online gun seller in Kentucky and had it delivered to Indy Arms Company in Indianapolis. The gun subsequently exploded in Indiana when the plaintiff test-fired it, fracturing the plaintiff’s finger. The gun was manufactured by Chiappa Italy and distributed by Chiappa USA.

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Another Roadside Attraction: The Supreme Court’s Latest Route Guidance on Personal Jurisdiction in Products Liability Cases

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On March 25, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Ford Motor Co. v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court, revisiting the issue of due process limitations on the exercise of personal jurisdiction, most recently addressed by the Court in 2017 in Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Court, 137 S. Ct. 1783 (2017) (“BMS”).  A unanimous Court (8-0, with Justice Barrett not participating) held in Ford Motor that courts in Montana and Minnesota could hear claims by residents of those states alleging injuries sustained in accidents that occurred there involving Ford vehicles.  Relying on Ford’s extensive contacts with those states, which consisted of efforts to create and serve local sales and service and repair markets for the same kinds of vehicles, the Court concluded these plaintiffs’ claims were sufficiently “related to” Ford’s local contacts, even though the actual vehicles in the accidents were designed, manufactured and initially sold in other states.  (We commented here on the state court decisions in these cases before Ford sought certiorari.)

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IL Supreme Court Follows BMS To Hold Courts May Not Exercise Personal Jurisdiction Over Claims of Out-of-State Plaintiffs for Out-Of-State Injuries From A Device Made Out-Of-State

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In an important decision in accord with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2017 landmark ruling on personal jurisdiction in Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of Calif., 137 S. Ct. 1773 (2017) (BMS), the Illinois Supreme Court held that Illinois courts may not exercise personal jurisdiction over claims of out-of-state plaintiffs for personal injuries suffered outside of Illinois from a device manufactured outside of Illinois. Rios v. Bayer, 2020 IL 125020 (June 4, 2020).

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