Bradley attorney Jaime Weida commented on lawsuits against South Korean company LG Chem alleging its batteries caused burn injuries to vape users in multiple states across the U.S. With varying degrees of success, LG Chem has fought jurisdiction in all of them. Because some courts regard LG Chem as jurisdictionally present while others don’t, whether plaintiffs receive compensation for their injuries hinges heavily on where they file suit.
Weida referenced a 2021 Supreme Court case, Ford Motor Co. v. Mont. Eighth Judicial District Court, and its impact on how judges might analyze personal jurisdiction in these suits.
“Ford expanded the second element of the personal jurisdiction analysis. Instead of the claim having to ‘arise out of’ the defendant’s contacts with the forum, the claim can ‘relate to’ a defendant’s contacts in the forum,” Weida explained.
In Ford, justices ruled that a defendant is subject to personal jurisdiction if their injuries “relate to” even if they don’t “derive from” their in-state activities. Weida said, “If the courts were still using ‘arises out of’, the contact would have needed to be more specific. For example, Ford may have had to have manufactured and sold those particular vehicles to those plaintiffs within the state of Minnesota and Montana.”
Whether case law is fair or unfair to the individuals suing LG Chem, Weida said it depends on the way one looks at it. The court looks at it in terms of reasonableness, not fairness, she said.
“If a company is doing business in a forum, it really should expect to litigate there,” Weida said. “That’s really the whole point of talking about that reasonableness and purposeful availment.”
The full article, “LG Chem Proves Tough to Pin Down in Battery Burn Suits Across US,” was published in Bloomberg Law on January 6, 2023. (login required)