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Automotive Defendant Obtains Dismissal for Lack of Jurisdiction

United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, July 21, 2022

In this asbestos action, defendant Honeywell International Inc., f/k/a Allied Signal Inc. as successor-in-interest to The Bendix Corporation filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. Plaintiff failed to respond to Honeywell’s motion.

A district court has personal jurisdiction over a defendant “who is subject to the jurisdiction of a court of general jurisdiction in the state where the district court is located.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(k)(1)(A). An Illinois district court must therefore inquire whether the defendant has certain minimum contact with Illinois “such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend ‘traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.'” Daimler AG v. Bauman, 571 U.S. 117, 134 S. Ct. 746, 754, 187 L. Ed. 2d 624 (2014) (quoting Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 131 S. Ct. 2846, 2853, 180 L. Ed. 2d 796 (2011)). Personal jurisdiction may be either specific or general. Daimler AG, 134 S. Ct. at 701-03.

Specific jurisdiction exists when an out-of-state defendant has “purposefully directed” his activities at residents of the forum, and the litigation results from alleged injuries that “arise out of or relate to those activities.” Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 472-73, 105 S. Ct. 2174, 85 L. Ed. 2d 528 (1985) (internal citations omitted). General jurisdiction exists over foreign corporations “when their affiliations with the State are so ‘continuous and systematic’ as to render them essentially at home in the forum State.” Goodyear, 131 S. Ct. at 2851. The place of incorporation and principal place of business are paradigm bases for general jurisdiction. Daimler AG, 134 S. Ct. at 760 (internal quotations omitted).

In the matter at hand, plaintiff is a resident of Ohio. She alleges exposure to asbestos in her family home in Ohio, and through her work and her husband’s work at a Borg-Warner facility in Bellwood, Illinois. However, the complaint does not allege that plaintiff’s alleged injuries arose out of, or relate to, Honeywell’s contracts with Illinois, and there are no specific allegations that plaintiff worked with or around any products or equipment attributable to Honeywell at the Borg-Warner facility or while she resided in Illinois. Therefore, this court lacks specific personal jurisdiction over plaintiff’s claims against Honeywell.

With respect to general jurisdiction, Honeywell is neither incorporated in Illinois nor maintains its principal place of business in Illinois. Moreover, Honeywell’s affiliations with Illinois are not “so continuous and systematic” as to render it at home in Illinois. Therefore, as both general jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction are lacking, the court granted defendant Honeywell’s motion to dismiss.

Read the full decision here.