Court Recommends Denial of Defendants’ Motions to Dismiss Finding Court had Subject Matter Jurisdiction and Personal Jurisdiction

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, February 11, 2021

The decedent was allegedly exposed to asbestos dust and fibers during his employment with the U.S. Navy and other various employers. He developed mesothelioma in 2018 and died from complications in February 2020. The decedent’s wife brings this lawsuit against various defendants alleging that they engaged in the mining, milling, manufacturing, distributing, supplying, selling and/or using and/or recommending and/or installing and/or removing asbestos materials and other dangerous ingredients and products which caused decedent to contract mesothelioma and cause his ultimate death.

Defendant Pennsylvania Power Company filed a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Defendant Alfa Laval, Inc. filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.

Pennsylvania Power Company argued the plaintiff’s claims were barred by the Occupational Disease Act of 1993. The court found the ODA did not apply in this case as it was undisputed decedent’s employment with Pennsylvania Power Company began in 1983 and his alleged exposure to asbestos occurred after that date. Accordingly, the ODA cannot apply in this case, as decedent’s exposure did not occur prior to the ODA effective date of 1972, but rather occurred after June 30, 1973. The court also found the plaintiff was able to seek common law remedies against defendant for occupational diseases as the mesothelioma symptoms began more than 300 weeks after the last possible occupational exposure. As such, the claims were not preempted by the Worker’s Compensation Board. The court found it properly had subject matter jurisdiction to hear the plaintiff’s claims.

Alfa Laval argued that the court lacked personal jurisdiction over it, because it is a New Jersey corporation with its principal place of business in Virginia and it has not purposefully directed any activities at the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The court concluded Alfa Laval had consented to jurisdiction under Pennsylvania’s consent-by-registration statute. The court noted the temporal aspect of the statute pertained to whether the corporation was registered in Pennsylvania at the time the cause of action arose. Finding the decedent developed symptoms and physical impairment in 2018, the court also found it undisputed Alfa Laval was registered as a foreign corporation in Pennsylvania at that time.

Based on the reasoning above, the court recommended the denial of both motions to dismiss.