Registered Agents Found Not to be Enough to Establish Personal Jurisdiction U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, June 27, 2017

Plaintiff Willie Everett, resident of Missouri, brought suit in the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis, claiming personal injuries after he allegedly inhaled, ingested, or otherwise absorbed asbestos fibers and/or asbestiform fibers emanating from certain products he was working with and around which were manufactured, sold, distributed, or installed by the defendants.

The defendants removed the case to federal court on January 19, 2017. The respective Petition contends the defendants maintained registered agents in the state of Missouri and engaged in business in Missouri. In response, the defendants moved to dismiss arguing lack of personal jurisdiction under the recent Missouri Supreme Court ruling in State ex re. Norfolk S. Ry. Co. v. Dolan, 512 S.W.3d 41 (Mo. 2017 en banc). Here, the defendants argued they did not consent to personal jurisdiction simply because they maintained registered agents in Missouri.

In State ex rel. Norfolk Ry. Co. v. Dolan, the Missouri Supreme Court held that “[t]he plain language of Missouri’s registration statutes does not mention consent to personal jurisdiction for unrelated claims, nor does it purport to provide an independent basis for jurisdiction over foreign corporations that register in Missouri. Id. at 51. Accordingly, in this decision, the United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division, followed this precedent and held “the Missouri Supreme Court has clarified the clear basis under Missouri law for the exercise of personal jurisdiction over the defendants is not consent or solely registration and therefore no longer valid. [Citation Omitted]. Even further, the plaintiff’s concede that registration alone no longer provides a basis for a court to exercise personal jurisdiction.

Therefore, in light of the State ex rel. Norfolk Ry. Co. v. Dolan opinion, this case was dismissed under Rule 12(b)(2) as the District Court lacked jurisdiction over the defendants.

Read the full decision here.


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