Specific Jurisdiction Established Under “Stream of Commerce Plus” Theory U.S. Northern District of California, May 16, 2019

CALIFORNIA – The plaintiff Thomas Toy alleged that his mesothelioma diagnosis was a result of asbestos exposure that incurred in multiple Navy shipyards to a variety of products throughout his machinist career. He claimed he was exposed to friction products in his role as a mechanic for the Army while stationed in Germany, Korea, and other U.S. locations and to construction products he used during home renovations. The defendant Viking Pump, Inc. moved to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule 12(b)(6), arguing that the plaintiff failed to establish personal jurisdiction in his complaint, and submitted an affidavit alleging that Viking, a publicly traded company, was incorporated and established in Delaware and Iowa, respectively, and had manufacturing facilities in Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom.

The court first concluded that no general jurisdiction could be established given that Viking, a Delaware corporation, kept its principal place of business in Iowa. The court went on to conclude, however, that it had specific jurisdiction over Viking under the “stream of commerce plus” theory, despite having no manufacturing facilities in the places in which the plaintiff alleged exposure while in the military. The plaintiff could rely on the allegations in his complaint that:

  1. Viking was a supplier of asbestos-containing pumps; and
  2. Viking regularly conducted business in the California since Viking submitted no evidence that it supplied its products to the Navy “somewhere outside of California.”

In sum, although the plaintiff’s allegations were “meager,” Viking’s motion did not contradict the plaintiff’s allegations. As a result, the Northern District of California denied Viking’s motion to dismiss on personal jurisdiction grounds.

Read the case decision here.

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