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Missouri Personal Jurisdiction Update

The multi-million dollar jury verdicts which have been rendered against talcum powder makers throughout the country, particularly in cases filed in the City of St. Louis, have been well publicized. Those verdicts remain on appeal and no appellate court has yet to issue an opinion on the merits of those cases. However, a Missouri Court of Appeals opinion from October 2017 has raised new questions about the jurisdictional underpinning of those verdicts which have occurred in Missouri., particularly for non-Missouri resident plaintiffs.

Personal Jurisdiction Updates From Illinois:

Recently, the Illinois Supreme Court issued a ruling concerning personal jurisdiction in Aspen American Insurance Co. v. Interstate Warehousing, Inc. 2017 IL 121281. This decision finally clarifies the issue of whether simply registering to do business in Illinois is sufficient to consent to general personal jurisdiction. The Illinois Supreme Court also reviewed the Illinois long-arm statute in relation to federal due process standards.

Defendants Secure Protective Orders To Prevent Waiver of Personal Jurisdiction During Discovery

On August 17, 2017, in Holt v. 4520 Corp., Inc., et al., (1622-CC00844), Judge Dierker of the 22nd Judicial Circuit of Missouri, issued an order finding Genuine Parts Company had waived its personal jurisdiction defense by taking steps to litigate the case on its merits including opposing a motion for a change of judge, noticing a deposition of Plaintiff's expert witness, and possibly other discovery. The Court also noted that over a year passed from when Genuine Parts filed its initial motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction and when the matter was fully briefed and taken under submission by the Court.

St. Louis Judge Declines to Limit Corporate Representative Deposition to Personal Jurisdiction Issues

Recent rulings by the Missouri Supreme Court and United States Supreme Court have brought personal jurisdiction issues to the forefront in many St. Louis City cases.  In the asbestos case of Rex Terrell v. 4520 Corp., et al. (1422-CC09988), Judge Dierker heard Plaintiff's motion to compel the deposition of Goodyear's corporate representative. Decedent worked over 35 years at a Goodyear facility in Texas, and did not testify to asbestos exposure from any Goodyear products. Plaintiff's counsel argued that a complete corporate representative deposition should be allowed in order to determine what products, if any, Goodyear shipped from Missouri to the Goodyear facility in Texas. Goodyear's defense counsel argued this deposition was unnecessary as Plaintiff lacks personal jurisdiction over Goodyear, and if the deposition is allowed it should only proceed on personal jurisdiction issues.

We All Must Rethink Personal Jurisdiction in Products Cases

The U.S. Supreme Court in Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S. Ct. 746, 754 (2014), (PDF) has forced all of us to reconsider everything we thought we knew about personal jurisdiction. Daimler has had a major impact in products liability and toxic tort cases.

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