Lack of Specific Personal Jurisdiction Leads to Dismissal of Alleged Successor to Joiner Contractor

NEW JERSEY – The plaintiff filed suit against multiple defendants alleging her decedent developed mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos containing products used or installed by the defendants including, RBC Sonic. It was alleged that Robert Fish was exposed to asbestos panels installed by a joiner contractor while working at the New York Shipbuilding and Drydock located in New Jersey in 1960. Sonic Industries, Inc. (Sonic) moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of specific personal jurisdiction.

The court stated that a plaintiff must “present a prima facie case for the exercise of personal jurisdiction by establishing with reasonable particularity sufficient contacts between the defendant and the forum state.” Here, it was undisputed that Sonic was not formed until 1966. Sonic was incorporated in California and held a principal place of business in Connecticut. The court took issue with the allegations that Sonic was “otherwise liable” for the plaintiff’s injuries without more detail. The plaintiff argued that Sonic was liable “as successor to the joiner contractor” that hung the asbestos panels. The plaintiff also took the position that the defendant had the burden to “provide the basis for its claim that it is not the putative successor to the joiner contractor.” The court disagreed and noted that the plaintiff failed to offer anything to illustrate a “continuation” of the joiner contractor to Sonic in order to impute liability. In fact, the court also noted that the plaintiff had not pled “a single fact relevant to the imputation issue.” The motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction was granted.

Read the case decision here.