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 snow was sold in Utah. The court denied the motion and Novelis filed an interlocutory appeal.

The primary issue addressed on appeal was whether the plaintiff satisfied the “stream of commerce” test to establish specific jurisdiction. The appellate court held that the mere fact that the product may have been sold in Utah was insufficient to satisfy the stream of commerce test since there was no act by Novelis or its predecessor by which they purposely availed themselves of the privilege of conducting activities in Utah. The plaintiff argued that the labels on the boxes of the product constituted advertising but the court disagreed. The appellate court reversed the district court based upon a lack of personal jurisdiction.

 

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