The plaintiff, Daniel Bannister, filed a petition for damages against numerous defendants alleging asbestos exposure that resulted in his diagnosis of mesothelioma. After his death, plaintiffs Patricia Ann Bannister, Shannon Rose Jordan, Daniel E. Bannister Jr., Dolphus Jacob Bannister, Anna Kay Springer, and Grayson Humble Bannister were substituted as proper-party plaintiffs. The defendant did not file an answer to the lawsuit, but rather filed a declinatory exception raising the objection of lack of jurisdiction over the person, and challenging the propriety of Louisiana court’s jurisdiction over it. After multiple hearings, the trial court denied the defendant’s declinatory exception.
The defendant appealed and filed a notice of intent to apply for supervisory writs. On appeal, the defendant asserted that the record is devoid of the necessary evidence to establish that it had sufficient minimum contacts with Louisiana. The plaintiff contends that despite the lack of direct contacts between the defendant and Louisiana, the defendant is the successor to Ford, Bacon & Davis Construction Corporation (FB&D), for whom Bannister worked between 1966 and 1969 at multiple industrial facilities, including the Commercial Solvents facility in Sterlington, Louisiana. The court notes that despite the identification of the defendant as Bannister’s employer in the Social Security Administration records, it is undisputed that the defendant did not exist until 2000, making it impossible for it to have been Bannister’s employer between 1966 through 1969. Moreover, according to the defendant’s discovery responses, it has no record indicating that Bannister was ever employed by the defendant. Further, the court indicated the record did not support imputing any minimum contacts of FB&D to the defendant as a successor corporation.
The Louisiana Long Arm Statute provides for the exercise of personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant, who acts directly or by an agent, as to a cause of action arising from transacting any business in this state, contracting to supply services or things in this state, or causing injury or damage by an offense or quasi offense committed through an act or omission in this state. La. R.S. 12:3201 A(1-3). Due process allows personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant when it has certain “minimum contacts” with the forum state such that maintenance of the suit does not offend traditional notions of “fair play and substantial justice.” Id.
The court reversed the trial court’s decision and dismissed the defendant due to lack of personal jurisdiction.
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