Case Law Alerts
No personal jurisdiction over out-of-state defendant, despite injuries felt in-state, heavy operations in-state, and difficulty suing elsewhere.
The plaintiff was exposed to asbestos while living and working in Massachusetts. In the late 1970s, he moved to Florida where he was diagnosed—more than 25 years later—with mesothelioma. The suit named Union Carbide, a New York/Texas corporation that manufactured some of the asbestos the plaintiff was exposed to in Massachusetts, but the Eleventh Circuit held that there was no personal jurisdiction over it. First, the defendant was not “at home” in Florida, because it was neither incorporated nor headquartered there, and this is not an “exceptional case” under Daimler because there is nothing approaching incorporation or main-office status. The court reaffirmed the rejection of a “substantial activity” test that was derived pre-Daimler and cannot be viewed as surviving Daimler. Second, there was no specific jurisdiction because no contact that Union Carbide had with Florida—and there was a lot of it—gave rise to the mesothelioma within the plaintiff. True, there was a manufacturing plant, marketing efforts and substantial sales all in Florida, but none of these related to the products that the plaintiff was exposed to when working in Massachusetts. Finally, the court held that the wording of Florida’s statute requiring out-of-state businesses to register in the state was not sufficient to give rise to jurisdiction by “consent.” The opinion limits itself to holding that the statute cannot be read as exacting such consent, but it also includes a strong implication that such forced consent statutes do not survive the more modern due process jurisprudence under Daimler and its progeny.
Case Law Alerts, 4th Quarter, October 2018
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