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Florida Court Dismisses Product Liability Claim Based on Lack of Jurisdiction

Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida product liability case discussing whether the State of Florida had personal jurisdiction over the defendant, a company that mined and processed talc that was included in products manufactured by other companies.

What Is Jurisdiction?

The term jurisdiction refers to a court’s power to hear a case and issue a binding judgment over the parties involved. By filing a lawsuit in a particular state, the plaintiff consents to that state’s jurisdiction. Thus, when jurisdiction is challenged it is challenged by a defendant who claims that the state where the plaintiff chose to file the case does not have power over the defendant.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff filed a Florida product liability case against several defendants based on the plaintiff’s use of Johnson & Johnson talc-based baby powder. Among the defendants named in the plaintiff’s lawsuit were Johnson & Johnson, the grocery store where the plaintiff purchased the powder, and the manufacturing company that provided Johnson & Johnson with the talc that was used to make the product. This opinion involved only the manufacturing company.

Evidently, the manufacturing company was a Delaware corporation that had its principal place of business in California. The defendant argued that a Florida court could not exercise jurisdiction over the defendant because the company did not mine talc in the State of Florida, nor did it not sell, ship, or distribute talc to Johnson & Johnson in Florida.

The Court’s Opinion

The court began its analysis by noting that jurisdiction is appropriate when the defendant “purposefully avails itself of the privilege of conducting activities within the forum State, thus invoking the benefits and protections of its laws.” The court explained that this requires a finding that the defendant intentionally “avail itself of the privilege of doing business in the
forum state.” The court emphasized that a company’s awareness that its products may end up in another state is not sufficient to establish jurisdiction in that state.

Here, the court noted that the defendant corporation neither mined nor sold talc in Florida. The court reasoned that although the Johnson & Johnson product containing talc that was manufactured by the defendant ended up in Florida, it was not by the doing of the defendant. Thus, the court explained that the defendant corporation did not purposefully avail itself to the laws of Florida and, as a result, the State of Florida does not have jurisdiction over the defendant.

Have You Been Injured by a Dangerous Product?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured by a dangerous or defective product, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Florida product liability lawsuit. At the South Florida injury law firm of Friedman Rodman & Frank, we represent injury victims in all types of claims, including Florida product liability cases. To learn more about how we can help you pursue a claim for compensation based on the injuries you have sustained, call 877-448-8585 to schedule a free consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

What Is an Attractive Nuisance under Florida Personal Injury Law?, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published February 21, 2019.

The Concept of Personal Jurisdiction in Florida Personal Injury Cases, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published March 7, 2019.

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