Auto Parts Supplier’s Personal Jurisdiction Motion Denied

WASHINGTON – The plaintiff’s decedent, Rudie Klopman-Baerselman, was a merchant mariner, serving aboard several vessels while allegedly working with and around asbestos-containing products. The plaintiff additionally alleged that Klopman-Baerselman performed all maintenance and friction work on his vehicles for 30 years, and that he purchased asbestos-containing gaskets, brakes, and clutches from the Defendant, NAPA, contributing to his fatal mesothelioma. NAPA filed a motion to dismiss, and alleged that the court had no jurisdiction as NAPA lacked sufficient contacts with the State of Washington, since it was a Georgia limited liability company with its principal place of business in Georgia.

In support of its motion, NAPA argued that it “merely licenses the use of the ‘NAPA’ logo and trademark to its members and to certain authorized suppliers” and that “there are no facts to support the exercise of specific jurisdiction over NAPA in Washington.” To determine whether specific jurisdiction existed, the court analyzed whether “(1) defendant purposefully availed itself of the privilege of conducting activities in Washington, thereby invoking the benefits and protections of its laws; (2) plaintiff’s claims arise out of defendant’s Washington-related activities; and (3) the exercise of jurisdiction would be reasonable.” In denying the motion and finding that personal jurisdiction existed for purposes of a 12(b)(2) motion, the court noted evidence offered from the decedent’s son, the decedent’s co-worker, and from corporate representatives of NAPA and GPC, which showed that NAPA marketed, sold, distributed, and benefited from the sale of asbestos-containing products in Washington.