Lack of Personal Jurisdiction Leads to Dismissal for Industrial Supply Defendant U.S. Supreme Court, New York County, September 29, 2018

NEW YORK — The plaintiff filed suit in New York against Grainger Inc. (Grainger) alleging her decedent, Myron Miller, passed from mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos for which Grainger was liable. Specifically, Mr. Miller was alleged to have been exposed to packing and gaskets while refurbishing and selling used equipment he bought from liquidation sales from 1980-1987. Mr. Miller resided in Georgia from 1973 but would travel to New York later to purchase used parts. Grainger, an Illinois corporation, moved to dismiss the complaint arguing a lack of personal jurisdiction. The plaintiff opposed the motion conditioned on Grainger’s willingness to waive its statute of limitations defense in Illinois.

The court quickly analyzed jurisdiction and determined that General Jurisdiction may be available when 1) The plaintiff shows that the defendant’s “affiliations with New York are so continuous and systematic as to render them essentially at home.” The court concluded that it could not exercise General Jurisdiction over Grainger because it is not a New York corporation and no exceptional reasons existed to required Grainger to be in New York’s courts. The analysis continued into one on Specific Jurisdiction. According to the court, Specific Jurisdiction may be asserted over a defendant if the defendant’s conduct form’s the necessary connection to the forum state. Under state’s long arm statute, Specific Jurisdiction is available when the defendant “1) transacts any business within the state or contracts anywhere to supply goods or services in the state; or 2) commits a tortious act within the state or 3) commits a tortious act without the state causing injury to person or property within the state… or 4) owns, uses or possesses any real property situated within the state.” Relying on the Myers Squibb Co. decision regarding specific jurisdiction, the court found that there was no “nexus” between any conduct from Grainger in New York and the actual action coming from that activity. Moreover, Grainger had not committed any tortious act in New York and the alleged exposure to any Grainger product happened outside of New York. The court also noted that the state statute did not permit tolling of limitations when a case is dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Also, any argument on statute of limitations should be addressed by the Illinois court’s at the plaintiff’s request. Accordingly, Grainger’s Motion for Dismissal for Lack of Jurisdiction was granted.

Read the full case decision here.

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