Southern District of Texas Finds No Personal Jurisdiction Over West Indies Insurance Company That Maintained Administrative Office in Texas

The World in U.S. Courts: Spring 2014 - Personal Jurisdiction

Air Tropiques, SPRL v. Northern & Western Ins. Co., U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas, March 31, 2014

Plaintiff Air Tropiques, an air carrier incorporated in the Democratic Republic of Congo, filed suit against Defendant Northern & Western Insurance (NWI), an insurance company based in St. Kitts, relating to NWI’s denial of Air Tropiques’ insurance claim for a plane crash in Africa. NWI moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, arguing that it is a St. Kitts company providing policies in St. Kitts, while Plaintiff is an African corporation and the plane crash occurred in Africa. NWI did, however, operate an "administrative office" in Texas, where Air Tropiques claims decisions regarding the underwriting and claims adjustment occurred.

The court held that, because Air Tropiques failed to alleged that the "administrative office" was Defendant’s principal place of business, "at best" it was unclear whether NWI is "at home" in Texas, which under the Supreme Court’s recent Daimler AG v. Bauman decision would be required for general personal jurisdiction to attach. The court also rejected specific personal jurisdiction over NWI because Air Tropiques had failed to make a prima facie showing that NWI had purposefully availed itself of the jurisdiction of U.S. courts in Texas by entering into the insurance contract.

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