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Massachusetts Court Discusses Jurisdiction Over Out of State Defendants

When a person is injured by a national corporation, pursuing damages against the corporation can be complicated. For example, the injured person must show that the court can exercise jurisdiction over the corporation and that the corporation can be held liable under the claims asserted, otherwise the injured person’s claims may fail. This was demonstrated in a recent case in which a plaintiff sought to hold a national drug company responsible for harm caused by a contrast agent administered during an MRI. If you sustained injuries due to the negligence of a corporation, it is prudent to meet with a skillful Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss what damages you may be able to recover.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff underwent an MRI, during which he was given an injection of a gadolinium-based contrast agent, that was manufactured by the defendant. Following the MRI, the plaintiff suffered gadolinium retention in several organs, which caused him to suffer emotional and physical injuries. He filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging the defendant failed to warn the patient adequately of the risks associated with gadolinium. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss, arguing, in part, that the court lacked personal jurisdiction over the defendant, and that the plaintiff’s claims were preempted by federal law. The court granted the defendant’s motion but granted the plaintiff leave to amend the complaint.

Exercising Personal Jurisdiction Over an Out of State Corporation

A court can exercise general or specific personal jurisdiction over a defendant. In the subject case, the plaintiff conceded that the court did not have general personal jurisdiction over the defendant. Thus, the court’s analysis focused on whether specific personal jurisdiction could properly be exercised over the defendant.

The Massachusetts long-arm statute allows courts to exercise jurisdiction over any corporations conducting business in the state. The court noted that the statute had been interpreted to mean that the harm must arise out of the transactions conducted within the state, for the state to exercise jurisdiction.

It is the plaintiff’s burden to establish jurisdiction, and he or she must do so by introducing specific facts that will allow the court to exercise jurisdiction. In the subject case, the court found that the plaintiff’s complaint did not contain any facts regarding where the defendant’s product was sold or administered, or that the plaintiff’s harm arose out of the defendant’s activities within the state. Thus, the court found that the plaintiff failed to plead adequate facts for the court to find that it could properly exercise specific personal jurisdiction over the defendant.  The court also held that the plaintiff failed to allege facts sufficient to overcome a preemption challenge. Thus, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint.

Speak with an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

If you suffered harm because of the negligence of a corporation, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss your potential claims and what you must prove to recover damages. The adept Massachusetts attorneys of Karsner & Meehan have the skills and knowledge needed to assist you in pursuing a successful outcome. We can be reached via our form online or at 508-822-6600 to schedule a meeting regarding your case.