Pennsylvania Personal Jurisdiction Update

The past three years have seen the scope of personal jurisdiction challenges expand on a national level, and Pennsylvania is no exception. Two areas in particular in Pennsylvania, jurisdiction by consent and jurisdiction by registration, have been tackled by both the state and federal courts in the Commonwealth. There have been inconsistent rulings in the courts, and there is potential for a continued sea change in this particular area of jurisprudence based on the outcome of a currently pending appeal in the Pennsylvania Superior Court.…
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Eight Defendants Dismissed Due to Lack of Personal Jurisdiction U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania November 19, 2019

PENNSYLVANIA – In an order entered on November 19, 2019, Judge Robreno of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania dismissed eight defendants in the Fend matter based upon the court’s lack of personal jurisdiction over each. The plaintiff was allegedly exposed to asbestos while working on ships and aircraft while serving in the Navy. In a footnote opinion, Robreno stated that, “the court finds no reason to amend its ruling in Sullivan that Pennsylvania’s statutory scheme requiring foreign corporations to register to do business and, therefore,…
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Attempt to Revive MARDOC Cases on Jurisdiction Fails as to all but Four Appellants United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, November 8, 2019

OHIO – The plaintiffs in this matter are merchant mariners who originally filed their cases in the Northern District of Ohio. Subsequent to filing, their cases were transferred to multidistrict litigation (MDL). Prior to trial in Pennsylvania, the court dismissed the cases after a finding that the Ohio court lacked personal jurisdiction, and appeal ensued. By way of background, the merchant mariner cases were in the thousands. Filings began in the 1980s against several ship owners, manufacturers, and suppliers of asbestos products. Their claims were…
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Lack of Personal Jurisdiction Eliminates $110 Million Dollar Verdict Against Talc Defendants Missouri Appellate Court, October 15, 2019

MISSOURI — $110 million verdict against talc defendants Johnson and Johnson and Imerys Talc North America was overturned by a Missouri appellate court this week. The plaintiff Lois Slemp filed suit against the defendants alleging that she developed ovarian cancer as a result of her use of Johnson and Johnson’s talcum powder products for over 40 years. The trial court found personal jurisdiction based on evidence that a Missouri-based company was used to “manufacture, mislabel and package” the products. Applying the Bristol Myers Squibb decision…
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Unclear Testimony Regarding Location of Exposure Leads to Dismissal Due to Lack of Personal Jurisdiction U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, October 7, 2019

LOUISIANA – The plaintiff, Terry BonDurant, alleged that he was exposed to asbestos while working as an electrician at various refineries in Louisiana, Texas and Florida from 1964 to 1979, and that he contracted mesothelioma from that exposure. He filed suit against numerous defendants, including Gould Electronics. However, at his deposition, the plaintiff did not provide any testimony with regard to exposure from a Gould product. Gould is incorporated in Arizona and maintains its principal place of business there. Gould filed a motion to dismiss…
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Talc Defendant’s Appeal of Personal Jurisdiction Denial Dismissed Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, September 11, 2019

NEW JERSEY – After a lengthy discussion of corporate successor liability and the histories of the companies at bar, a New Jersey appellate court ultimately determined that the factual record was too incomplete to resolve questions regarding jurisdiction, and dismissed an appeal of the trial court’s order denying talc defendant Cyprus Amax Minerals Company (Cyprus) personal jurisdiction motion. Ohio resident Linda Huff had sued two Delaware corporations, Imerys Talc America, Inc. and Cyprus in New Jersey state court, alleging that their talc was incorporated into…
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Plaintiff’s Failure to Show General and Specific Jurisdiction Results in Premises Defendant’s Dismissal U.S. District Court, E.D. of Louisiana, August 15, 2019

LOUISIANA – The plaintiff, Terry Bondurant, alleged exposure to asbestos while working as an electrician at various chemical plants in Texas and Louisiana, including a plant located in Texas that belonged to the defendant, Eastman Kodak. . Kodak, however, was incorporated in New Jersey and has its principal place of business in New York. Kodak moved to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(2), on personal jurisdiction grounds, asserting that the court lacked general jurisdiction, as well as specific jurisdiction. Kodak claimed that because neither its state of…
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Reconsideration of Motion to Dismiss of Auto Parts Manufacturer Denied Due to No Manifest Error United States District Court, W.D. Washington July 1, 2019

Defendant National Automotive Parts Association (NAPA) filed the instant Motion for Reconsideration of the order denying the Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction, putting forth three arguments:
  1. The order appeared to have mistakenly cited to inadmissible and incompetent evidence
  2. The court may have overlooked a key distinction between branding or licensing a product and manufacturing or distributing a product
  3. The order did not rule on NAPA’s alternative request that an evidentiary hearing be held to resolve any factual conflict
Western District of Washington…
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Washington State Personal Jurisdiction Dispute Remanded to Trial Court for Further Findings of Fact Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 1, July 1, 2019

WASHINGTON – The plaintiff sued the defendant Special Electric and others on behalf of the decedent Donald Noll, and alleged that Noll’s fatal mesothelioma was caused in part by his work with asbestos-cement pipe in the 1970s that contained asbestos supplied by Special Electric. Special Electric moved to dismiss the matter for lack of personal jurisdiction, which the trial court granted. However, Washington’s Supreme Court remanded the case to the trial court for consideration of the facts in light of its decision in State v.
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Lack of Personal Jurisdiction Against Artificial Snow Manufacturer Leads to Dismissal on Appeal Court of Appeals of Utah, June 20, 2019

UTAH – The plaintiff, Michele Felix, filed suit in 2015 on behalf of her brother, who died of mesothelioma in 2014. In 2017, she amended the complaint to join Novelis, whose predecessor in interest, Metal Goods, allegedly exposed Raymond Felix to asbestos through its manufacture of an artificial snow product. Novelis subsequently moved for dismissal based upon a lack of personal jurisdiction. The district court found there was no general jurisdiction over Novelis but that specific jurisdiction had been established upon evidence that the artificial…
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