Presence of Local Subsidiary and General Commercial Activity Fails to Support Personal Jurisdiction for Transfer

The World in U.S. Courts: Fall 2013 - Personal Jurisdiction

Francis v. Bridgestone Corp., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133161 (D.V.I., Sept. 18, 2013)

Defendant Bridgestone Corp., a Japanese Corporation, was sued in the U.S. Virgin Islands by Plaintiff Troy Franciss for strict liability and negligence claims stemming from a car accident, allegedly caused by defective tires. Bridgestone filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that it had insufficient contact with the forum to support personal jurisdiction. Franciss conceded this, and sought to transfer the case to Florida. The Court noted that two requirements must be satisfied for a transfer: that the transfer be in the interests of justice and that the action could have been originally brought in Florida. Here, the Court sided with the Plaintiff on the first requirement, finding that a transfer was in the interests of justice because the Plaintiff properly brought suit where the accident had occurred and where he believed jurisdiction was proper. But, the Court found insufficient evidence of contacts to establish Bridgestone’s personal jurisdiction in Florida, such that the action could have been brought in Florida originally. Specifically, the court found Bridgestone’s general distribution of tires and the presence of a Florida subsidiary was insufficient.

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