Court Grants Jurisdictional Discovery from Foreign Defendant Following Personal Jurisdiction Motion

Supreme Court of New York, New York County, December 27, 2022

In the matter of Pira v. Air & Liquid Sys. Corp., defendant Steel Grip, Inc., filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s case for lack of personal jurisdiction. With regard to specific jurisdiction, the defendant argued that it did not sell, distribute, or manufacture any products in the state of New York, and that all of the plaintiff’s alleged exposure to asbestos occurred on Italian cruise ships. With regard to general jurisdiction, the defendant argued that it was not incorporated in New York, nor did it have its headquarters or principal place of business in New York. As such, the defendant argued that New York courts lacked personal jurisdiction over it pursuant to CPLR § 302(a).

In opposition, the plaintiff offered his deposition transcript, wherein he alleged that the asbestos-containing gloves that he associated with the defendant were purchased in New York, and that he witnessed boxes of the same type of gloves being loaded ontothe cruise ships in New York. The plaintiff argued that personal jurisdiction over the defendant has been established, or in the alternative that they should be permitted to engage in jurisdictional discovery.

The court noted that to find personal jurisdiction, it must determine whether it has general or specific jurisdiction over the defendant. Jurisdiction must be established under either New York’s general jurisdiction statute CPLR § 301 or the long arm statute (i.e. specific jurisdiction), CPLR § 302(a). The court found that the defendant’s principal place of business was indeed outside of New York and that the defendant was not incorporated in New York State. Therefore, general jurisdiction was not present.

However, the court ruled that under the provisions of CPLR § 302(a), the evidence offered by the plaintiff was sufficient to demonstrate that jurisdictional discovery on the defendant was needed. That is, under New York’s long arm statute, specific jurisdiction exists if a defendant: (1) transacted any business within the state or contracted anywhere to supply goods or services in the state; or (2) committed a tortious act within the state; or (3) committed a tortious act without the state causing injury to person … within the state … if he (i) regularly did or solicited business, or engaged in any other persistent course of conduct, or derives substantial revenue from goods used or consumed or services rendered, in the state, or (ii) expected or should have reasonably expected the act to have consequences in the state and derives substantial revenue from interstate or international commerce; or (4) owned, used or possessed real property situated within the state. The court noted the plaintiff’s testimony that his ships routinely made stops in New York and stocked supplies from New York, which was sufficient to demonstrate a need for jurisdictional discovery.

Given this, the court denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss without prejudice, and granted the plaintiff’s cross motion for jurisdictional discovery. The defendant can renew its motion at the conclusion of discovery.

Read the full decision here.