United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit.
Plaintiff William Traser filed suit against multiple defendants in the United States District Court for Michigan. Mr. Traser passed away from mesothelioma two years later. His case was then consolidated into the Multidistrict Litigation (“MDL”) in 1991. Thereafter, his case was transferred to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. His case was then dismissed “for lack of personal jurisdiction in the Northern District of Ohio, where the court perceived the cases had been transferred to decades earlier.” Mr. Traser’s estate appealed.
By way of background, Mr. Traser’s case was one of tens of thousands filed by the Jacques Admiralty Law firm in the 1980’s. Some of those cases were filed in the Eastern District of Michigan. Mr. Traser’s case became subject to an order designating Judge Thomas Lambros of the Northern District of Ohio to handle those cases filed by the Jacques Admiralty Law firm. It appeared from the record that the transfer to Ohio did not take place, but nonetheless the case was eventually transferred to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania where it was pending for over twenty years. The Eastern District of Pennsylvania eventually dismissed the case for lack of personal jurisdiction.
On appeal, the Court quickly analyzed whether it had jurisdiction over the case. As the Court concluded….”despite all that has transpired in the various district court cases, we lack jurisdiction over the matter.” Relying on Papotto case, the court noted that a dismissal ends all proceedings and jurisdiction. Plaintiff countered and stated that the dismissal was made in error or accident. Relying on the Wilson case, the Plaintiff requested the Court to overlook the dismissal. However, the Court noted the difference between Wilson and the instant matter because Traser did not timely appeal the dismissal. Consequently, the appeal was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.