News 11.30.16

Segal McCambridge Chicago Team Successfully Argues Motion to Dismiss in Asbestos Exposure Case

Segal McCambridge Shareholder Catherine Goldhaber and Associate Christopher Triska successfully argued a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction on behalf of Rogers Corporation (“Defendant”), a manufacturer of engineered materials, in an asbestos exposure case.  Plaintiff alleged that she was exposed to asbestos while working at Square D, an electrical equipment manufacturer in Iowa from 1972 to 1979. Plaintiff’s suit alleged that exposure to asbestos in many different products,  including a Rogers -produced molding compound,  caused her to develop mesothelioma.  Plaintiff alleged this product was shipped from Illinois sometime between 1972 and 1979. Defendant Rogers immediately filed a Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction and For Failure to State a Claim.

In advancing its Motion to Dismiss, Defendant argued that the Court had neither general nor specific personal jurisdiction over Rogers Corporation and that Plaintiff had failed to state a claim.  Defendant argued from the outset that Plaintiff was unable to show any connection between its products and Illinois so as to satisfy personal jurisdiction.  Plaintiff, a resident of Iowa, alleged exposure to asbestos-containing products in Iowa and failed to show the requisite minimum contacts between Defendant and Illinois so as to prove that the Court had specific personal jurisdiction over Defendant. Furthermore, Plaintiff could not show that Defendant purposefully directed its activities at Illinois.  In making its case for lack of general personal jurisdiction, Defendant argued that it was not “essentially at home” in Illinois and that the opening of Defendant’s one Illinois facility post-dated the time of Plaintiff’s alleged exposure and injury, rendering moot any argument to the contrary.

In response to Defendant’s motion, Plaintiff advanced arguments attempting to establish limited “relatedness” between the Defendant and Illinois by relying on Illinois long-arm statute, 735 ILCS 5/2-209 and due process allowances.  Plaintiff also pointed to the Supreme Court’s failure in Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S. Ct. 746, 761 n.19 (2014), to establish any definitive guidance as to which specific locations defendants are to be regarded as being “at home” as evidence that the Court could find Defendant to have been “essentially at home” in Illinois. Defendant’s arguments prevailed.  In granting Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss, the Court found that it had neither general nor specific personal jurisdiction over Rogers Corporation.

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