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Massachusetts Court Discusses Jurisdiction Over Non-Resident Defendants

If a person is harmed by a defective product, he or she can pursue a claim for damages from the manufacturer of the product. Even if you can prove a product is defective, however, you prove that the court can validly exercise jurisdiction over the manufacturer to recover compensation. The United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts recently discussed the requirements for exercising jurisdiction over a non-resident company, in a case in which the plaintiff was allegedly injured at work by a defective container. If you suffered harm due to a defective product you should meet with a skilled Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss what damages you may be able to pursue.

Factual and Procedural Background

Reportedly, the plaintiff, who lives in Massachusetts, worked at a chemical manufacturing company owned by the defendant employer. In January 2016, while the plaintiff was working, a defective container exploded, causing a fire. The plaintiff suffered severe injuries as a result of the explosion. He subsequently filed a workers’ compensation claim, and then filed a lawsuit against numerous defendants, including the manufacturer of the defective container. The defendant manufacturer moved the case to federal court, and then filed a motion to dismiss due to lack of personal jurisdiction. Upon review, the court granted the motion.

Exercising Jurisdiction Over Nonresident Companies

Under Massachusetts law, when personal jurisdiction is called into question the plaintiff bears the burden of proving a court’s exercise of personal jurisdiction is valid. In assessing whether personal jurisdiction can be exercised over a non-resident company a court must determine whether the exercise of jurisdiction comports with the Massachusetts long-arm statute and with the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution.

To exercise specific personal jurisdiction over a defendant, the plaintiff must show that the defendant maintained minimum contacts with the state of Massachusetts so that allowing the case to proceed will not offend the notions of fair play and substantial justice. To determine whether exercising jurisdiction will comport with due process a court will review whether the claim arises out of the defendant’s activities within the state, whether the defendant purposefully availed itself of the benefits of conducting business in the state, and whether exercising jurisdiction is reasonable.

In reviewing a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, the court must limit its review to the facts of the pleadings but must take the facts as plead to be true. In the subject case, the court found that the facts the plaintiff set forth regarding the defendant manufacturer were limited to allegations that he was injured in Massachusetts by a product made and placed into the stream of commerce by the defendant manufacturer. The court found that the place where the plaintiff was injured, in and of itself, was insufficient to establish personal jurisdiction. Thus, the court granted the defendant’s motion.

Consult an Experienced Massachusetts Personal Injury Attorney Regarding Your Case

Manufacturers are required to make products that are reasonably safe for their intended users. If you were injured by a defective product, it is advisable to consult an experienced Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss the circumstances surrounding your harm and what you must prove to recover compensation. At Karsner & Meehan, our skilled personal injury attorneys will tirelessly pursue the full extent of damages you may be able to recover. We can be reached through our online form or at 508-822-6600 to schedule a consultation regarding your case.