Lack of Personal Jurisdiction over Successor-in-Interest Defendant Leads to Dismissal in Environmental Contamination Case Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department, July 25, 2018

NEW YORK — The plaintiffs filed suit against the defendants alleging damages for environmental contamination within the City of Rochester. Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that the successors in interest to the defendants caused contamination to their property throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s. Defendant Valero Corporation (Valero) moved for dismissal of the plaintiff’s second amended complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction. The trial court denied the motion finding that the plaintiffs had established facts that demonstrated justification to “exercise” personal jurisdiction over Valero because “it was the successor in interest to a company that was itself subject to personal jurisdiction in New York.”

The court quickly reversed citing the proposition from Sementz which rejected the plaintiff’s contention that jurisdiction exists over a defendant by virtue of its predecessor being subject to jurisdiction. Moreover, Sementz dealt withg tort liability and not jurisdiction. The court noted that the plaintiff did not challenge the Sementz holding.

Accordingly, the second amended complaint was dismissed.

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