The World in U.S. Courts: Summer 2013 - Personal Jurisdiction
In a series of cases involving similar plaintiffs, defendant Proxy Biomedical, Ltd. (“Proxy”) challenged the court’s personal jurisdiction over it in a product liability suit. Personal jurisdiction was assessed under the State of Georgia’s “long-arm statute,” which authorizes suits against out-of-state defendants based on the nature of their contacts with the state. In this case, the plaintiffs claimed they were injured by a medical implant made by Proxy and that Proxy could be sued in Georgia because of various contracts that Proxy had with Georgia corporations and the sale of its products in the state.
Although Proxy had entered into three contracts with Georgia companies and manufactured a component which is “indirectly sold to parties in Georgia,” the court found those contacts fell significantly below the level of regular and substantial contacts necessary to allow a state to have “general jurisdiction” over Ireland-based Proxy—meaning, that Proxy could not be sued in Georgia for acts unrelated to those connecting it with the State. Nor did the court find that there was “specific jurisdiction” over Proxy, pursuant to which a foreign corporation could be sued where the claim arose specifically from its dealings in the State. The court reviewed Proxy’s contacts with Georgia, including various unrelated contracts, participation in trade shows and conferences, and alleged injuries in Georgia caused by a product which incorporated Proxy’s implant, but found no injury related to those activities.