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Bondurant v. 3M Company

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

October 7, 2019

TERRY BONDURANT
v.
3M COMPANY, ET AL.

         SECTION: “J” (5)

          ORDER & REASONS

          CARL J. BARBIER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction (Rec. Doc. 61) filed by Defendant Gould Electronics Inc. (“Gould”) and an opposition thereto (Rec. Doc. 65) filed by Plaintiff. Having considered the motion and legal memoranda, the record, and the applicable law, the Court finds that the motion should be GRANTED.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         This litigation arises from personal injuries allegedly sustained because of exposure to asbestos. Plaintiff Terry L. BonDurant alleges that he contracted mesothelioma as a result of being exposed to asbestos in connection with his work as an electrician at various refineries and chemical plants in Louisiana, Texas and Florida between 1964 and 1979. Plaintiff brings claims for general negligence, negligence and strict liability against Gould as a seller, supplier, distributor or manufacturer of equipment; however, Plaintiff did not indicate in his deposition testimony a specific place, date, or time that he was exposed to asbestos while working with or around Gould's products.[1]

         Gould's precursor entities sold and manufactured electrical products throughout the United States.[2] Gould's place of incorporation and principal place of business are in Arizona.[3]

         Plaintiff initially filed suit in Orleans Parish Civil District Court on March 1, 2019. The case was removed to this Court on May 24, 2019. Plaintiff served Gould on July 29, 2019, [4] and Defendant filed the instant motion on August 15, 2019.[5]

         Gould asserts the Court lacks general jurisdiction over it because neither its principal place of business nor place of incorporation are in Louisiana. Further, Gould contends that the Court lacks specific jurisdiction over it because Plaintiff's alleged exposure to Gould's products only occurred in Texas. Additionally, Gould moves to dismiss all claims against it for insufficient service of process, asserting that Plaintiff cannot establish good cause for his failure to serve Gould until almost five months after he filed his original petition.

         Plaintiff argues that the Court has personal jurisdiction over Gould because it sold, distributed, and marketed its products in Louisiana and he was exposed to asbestos from Defendant's products while working in Louisiana. Further, Plaintiff claims that he complied with requisite time periods for service before and after removal. In the alternative, Plaintiff requests an opportunity for jurisdictional discovery before Gould is dismissed from the case.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Rule 12(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits dismissal of a suit for lack of personal jurisdiction. “Where a defendant challenges personal jurisdiction, the party seeking to invoke the power of the court bears the burden of proving that jurisdiction exists.” Luv N' care, Ltd. v. Insta-Mix, Inc., 438 F.3d 465, 469 (5th Cir. 2006). However, the plaintiff is not required to establish jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence; a prima facie showing is sufficient. Id. The court must accept the plaintiff's uncontroverted allegations and resolve all conflicts between the facts contained in the parties' affidavits and other documentation in favor of jurisdiction. Id.

         A federal court sitting in diversity must satisfy two requirements to exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant. Pervasive Software Inc. v. Lexware GmbH & Co. KG, 688 F.3d 214, 220 (5th Cir. 2012). “First, the forum state's long-arm statute must confer personal jurisdiction. Second, the exercise of jurisdiction must not exceed the boundaries of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.” Id. The limits of the Louisiana long-arm statute are coextensive with constitutional due process limits. Jackson v. Tanfoglio Giuseppe, SRL, 615 F.3d 579, 584 (5th Cir. 2010). Accordingly, the inquiry here is whether the jurisdiction comports with federal constitutional guarantees. See id.

         The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees that no federal court may assume personal jurisdiction of a non-resident defendant unless the defendant has certain “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. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945) (citation omitted). The Supreme Court has recognized two types of personal jurisdiction: specific and general. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court, 137 S.Ct. 1173, 1779-80 (2017).

         Specific jurisdiction is limited to “adjudication of issues deriving from, or connected with, the very controversy that establishes jurisdiction.” Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 919 (2011) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). To establish specific jurisdiction, a plaintiff must show that (1) there are sufficient pre-litigation contacts between the defendant and the forum that are not random, fortuitous, or attenuated, (2) the defendant purposefully established the contacts, and (3) “the plaintiff's cause of action arises out of or is related to the defendant's forum contacts.” Pervasive Software, 688 ...


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