Plaintiff’s Failure to Show General and Specific Jurisdiction Results in Premises Defendant’s Dismissal U.S. District Court, E.D. of Louisiana, August 15, 2019
LOUISIANA – The plaintiff, Terry Bondurant, alleged exposure to asbestos while working as an electrician at various chemical plants in Texas and Louisiana, including a plant located in Texas that belonged to the defendant, Eastman Kodak. . Kodak, however, was incorporated in New Jersey and has its principal place of business in New York. Kodak moved to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(2), on personal jurisdiction grounds, asserting that the court lacked general jurisdiction, as well as specific jurisdiction.
Kodak claimed that because neither its state of incorporation nor its principal place of business were located in Louisiana, the court had no general jurisdiction over it. In response, the plaintiff argued multiple grounds for general jurisdiction:
- Kodak’s admission to do business in Louisiana during the exposure period
- Kodak maintained a business address and registered agent in Louisiana during the exposure period
- Kodak’s ownership of Louisiana property
- Kodak maintained some type of mailing address of account in Louisiana
- Kodak employed Louisiana residents
- Kodak entered into contracts requiring performance in Louisiana or application of Louisiana law
- Kodak derived revenue from activity in Louisiana
- Kodak engaged in advertising that reached Louisiana
- Kodak’s involvement in asbestos-related litigation as a result of business activities similar to its business activities in Texas.
The court found all of these reasons insufficient to establish general jurisdiction, and instead agreed with Kodak, concluding that because neither Kodak’s principal place of business nor its state of incorporation – the two factors assessed for general jurisdiction – were in Louisiana, Kodak was not “at home” in Louisiana, thereby precluding general jurisdiction.
Emphasizing that a plaintiff could not be the only link between a defendant and the forum, the court went on to find unavailing the plaintiff’s arguments that:
- Kodak’s failure to fulfill its ongoing duty warn as to cumulative effects beyond the plaintiff’s exposure in Texas
- The plaintiff’s travel to non-Kodak-related work in Louisiana established specific jurisdiction.
Accordingly, the court held there was no specific jurisdiction over Kodak because the plaintiff failed to demonstrate a connection between the plaintiff’s injuries, Kodak, and, Louisiana.
Read the case decision here.