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Everett v. Aurora Pump Co.

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

June 27, 2017

WILLIE EVERETT,, Plaintiffs,
v.
AURORA PUMP COMPANY, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          HENRY EDWARD AUTREY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on the Motions to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction, [Doc. No.'s 12, 13, 14, 26, 34, 46, 59, 79, 159, 165, 186, and 215]. Plaintiffs oppose the Motions. For the reasons set forth below, the Motions will be granted.

         Background

         Defendants removed this matter to federal court from the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis, Missouri, on January 19, 2017. According to the Petition, Defendants maintain registered agents in the state of Missouri, and are engaged in business in Missouri. Plaintiff Willie Everett is a resident of Missouri who was exposed to and inhaled, ingested or otherwise absorbed asbestos fibers and/or asbestiform fibers emanating from certain products he was working with and around which were manufactured, sold, distributed or installed by Defendants.

         In response to the Petition, Defendants moved to dismiss the action under Rule 12(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for lack of personal jurisdiction. Defendants contend they have not consented to personal jurisdiction. In light of the Missouri Supreme Court's recent ruling in State ex rel. Norfolk S. Ry. Co. v. Dolan, 512 S.W.3d 41 (Mo. 2017 en banc).

         Plaintiffs have asserted that Defendants consented to personal jurisdiction because they maintain a registered agent in Missouri. Since the filing of this action, the Missouri Supreme Court has held that “[t]he plain language of Missouri's registration statutes does not mention consent to personal jurisdiction for unrelated claims, nor does it purport to provide an independent basis for jurisdiction over foreign corporations that register in Missouri.” Dolan, 512 S.W.3d at 51. Furthermore, the registration statute does not provide an independent basis for broadening Missouri's personal jurisdiction to include suits unrelated to the corporation's forum activities when the usual bases for general jurisdiction are not present. To the extent the holdings or dicta in prior cases suggest otherwise, they go beyond the language of the relevant statutes and should no longer be followed. Id. at 52.

         Consequently, the Missouri Supreme Court has clarified the clear basis under Missouri law for the exercise of personal jurisdiction over Defendants is not consent or solely registration and therefore no longer valid. Id. Plaintiffs concede that registration no longer provides a basis for a court to exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant.

         Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2), an action may be dismissed if the district court lacks personal jurisdiction over the defendant. “To allege personal jurisdiction, a plaintiff must state sufficient facts in the complaint to support a reasonable inference that the defendant can be subjected to jurisdiction within the state.” Dairy Farmers of Am., Inc. v. Bassett & Walker Int'l, Inc., 702 F.3d 472, 474-75 (8th Cir. 2012) (citations, quotations marks and alteration omitted). “If the defendant controverts or denies jurisdiction, the plaintiff bears the burden of proving facts supporting personal jurisdiction.” Id. The showing of jurisdiction “must be tested, not by the pleadings alone, but by the affidavits and exhibits presented with the motions and in opposition thereto.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted).

         By way of overview, the Court notes that absent waiver or consent, “[p]ersonal jurisdiction can be specific or general.” Fastpath, Inc. v. Arbela Techs. Corp., 760 F.3d 816, 820 (8th Cir. 2014) (citation omitted). “Specific jurisdiction refers to jurisdiction over causes of action arising from or related to a defendant's actions within the forum state, while general jurisdiction refers to the power of a state to adjudicate any cause of action involving a particular defendant, regardless of where the cause of action arose.” Viasystems, Inc. v. EBM-Papst St. Georgen GmbH & Co., KG, 646 F.3d 589, 593 (8th Cir. 2011).

         Specific Jurisdiction

         Specific jurisdiction “requires a relationship between the forum, the cause of action, and the defendant.Myers v. Casino Queen, Inc., 689 F.3d 904, 912 (8th Cir. 2012) (citation omitted). This occurs “when the defendant purposely directs its activities in the forum state and the litigation results from injuries relating to the defendant's activities in the forum state.” Id. at 912-13. The relationship between a defendant's contacts and the cause of action is not restricted to a proximate cause standard but should take into account the “totality of the circumstances.” Id. The exercise of specific jurisdiction is appropriate only if authorized by the forum state's long-arm statute and permitted by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Bryant v. Smith Interior Design Grp., Inc., 310 S.W.3d 227, 231 (Mo. 2010).

         Minimum Contacts

         Due process requires that the defendant has sufficient “minimum contacts with [the forum state] such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.” Int'l Shoe Co. v. Wash., 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Generally, “those who live or operate primarily outside a State have a due process right not to be subjected to judgment in its courts.” J. McIntyre Mach., Ltd. v. Nicastro, 564 U.S. 873, 881 (2011) (plurality opinion). However, sufficient minimum contacts exist when “the defendant's conduct and connection with the forum are such that he should reasonably anticipate being haled into court there.” World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 297 (1980). In evaluating “reasonable anticipation” the court must determine whether there is “some act by which the defendant purposefully avails itself of the privilege of conducting activities within the forum state, thus invoking the benefits and protections of its laws.” Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 475 (1985).

         Plaintiffs argue that the “jurisdiction by necessity” doctrine should apply. Under this doctrine, jurisdiction could be exercised where there exists no other forum in which a ...


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