Remand Denied and Plaintiffs’ Mesothelioma Suit Dismissed Based on Lack of Personal Jurisdiction

MINNESOTA — In March 2016, the plaintiffs filed suit against multiple defendants, including Conwed Corporation, in Missouri Circuit Court in St. Louis alleging that the husband plaintiff’s mesothelioma was caused by exposure to the defendants’ asbestos-containing products, including Conwed’s ceiling tile. On January 19, 2017, the Missouri Circuit Court dismissed the plaintiffs’ complaint against Conwed without prejudice, finding, in part, that Conwed was “a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in New York.” The plaintiffs refiled suit on March 16, 2017 in Ramsey County District Court, Minnesota against Conwed and served the summons and complaint upon C.T. Corporation Systems, Conwed’s registered agent in Minnesota. On April 4, 2017, Conwed removed the case to federal court, invoking federal diversity jurisdiction.

The plaintiffs’ advanced three separate arguments for why the court should exercise personal jurisdiction over the defendant: (1) consent; (2) general personal jurisdiction; and (3) specific personal jurisdiction. Conwed had not been authorized to transact business in Minnesota since 2009, and the plaintiffs’ cause of action arose out of a 2015 mesothelioma diagnosis, therefore , the court held there was no personal jurisdiction by virtue of consent. The court found that “general jurisdiction over Conwed is clearly lacking” because there was no evidence Conwed’s operations in Minnesota were “so substantial and of such a nature to render it at home in this state.” Finally, the court examined three main jurisdictional factors considered by the Eighth Circuit — the nature, quality, and quantity of the defendant’s contacts with the forum, and the relation to the cause of action — and held they weighed against exercising specific personal jurisdiction over the defendant. Additionally, two secondary factors, the interest of the forum and the convenience of the parties, did not alter the court’s calculus in the plaintiffs’ favor. Ultimately, the court denied the plaintiffs’ Motion to Remand to State Court and granted the defendant’s Motion to Dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction without prejudice.

Read the full decision here.