Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss Granted as Specific Jurisdiction Not Established

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California

In this asbestos action, plaintiff Frank Shelton alleged exposure to asbestos while serving in the U.S. Navy from the mid-1960s until the early 1970s. Defendant Superior Lidgerwood Mundy Corporation filed a motion to dismiss this matter, contending that the court did not have general or specific jurisdiction over the defendant. In support of its motion, the defendant submitted a declaration from its vice president and chief financial officer, setting forth that:

[Defendant] is not headquartered in California, nor does [Defendant] have its principal place of business in California; [Defendant] has never manufactured its products in California; [Defendant] has never sold its pumps in California on a retail or commercial basis; [Defendant’s] manufacturing facilities are located solely in Wisconsin; [Defendant] is not licensed to do business in California, and does not have an agent for service of process in California; [Defendant] does not own any real estate in California, and does not have any employees, agents, or bank accounts in the state of California.

Notably, the defendant’s only connection to California entailed a U.S. Navy contract to sell 213 ship pumps to California, as well as one winch sold to Los Angeles County. The plaintiff opposed the defendant’s motion, arguing that the defendant’s act of placing their pumps into the stream of commerce is sufficient for the court to have jurisdiction over the defendant. The court disagreed with the plaintiff, noting that Ninth Circuit precedent holds that “the sale of a product to a state resident alone is insufficient to establish personal jurisdiction.” In addition, the court found that “Plaintiffs do not provide evidence to refute any of the facts [Defendant] alleges in its declaration. Plaintiffs have not sufficiently alleged that [Defendant] purposefully directed its activities at California.” Further, “there are no allegations pertaining to whether [Defendant] engaged in any additional acts such as advertising in the forum, designing of the product for the market in the forum, or the use of a sales agent in the forum to help distribute and sell the product.” Thus, the court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss with leave to amend. The court also granted the plaintiff’s request for jurisdictional discovery.