MISSOURI LAW UPDATE: MO court rulings in favor of defense on jurisdiction issue

Posted: 11/6/2017

The courts in Missouri are now following the same trend set by the Madison County Court based on recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions. The Eastern District of Missouri Appellate Court recently reversed and vacated a jury verdict in a case entitled Estate of Jacqueline Fox v. Johnson & Johnson, et al., ED104580 (filed October 17, 2017 icon MO_Appeals_Ct.pdf (200 KB)). Johnson & Johnson appealed the plaintiff's verdict on numerous grounds, however the lower court's failure to grant J&J's jurisdiction motion was reason enough for the appellate court to vacate the verdict.

None of the parties raised the retroactivity of the ruling, i.e. that the Bristol Myers (BMS) opinion was issued during the pendency of the appeal in this case. However, the court disposed of that issue by first acknowledging that the BMS opinion was not making new law but rather clarifying its prior ruling in Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 131 S.Ct. 2846 (2011) but then also explained that reconsideration is allowed because a party cannot be deemed to have waived challenges that were not yet available, and no prejudice would result from reconsideration. Interestingly, while the parties agreed that the BMS decision was controlling in this case, the plaintiff, Fox, proposed that the court should remand the case to the trial court for further development of the factual record supporting jurisdiction under the narrower standard of BMS heretofore not required in Missouri. Specifically, the plaintiff sought to establish that J&J directed the production, packaging, and distribution of its products through a Missouri company, Pharma Tech. J&J countered that plaintiff was precluded from supplementing the record at this stage and urged the court to dismiss the case outright with prejudice. The court found no precedent for remanding the case in its advanced posture and vacated the plaintiff's verdict.

Following this trend and most recently the Madison County Circuit Court's lead in Illinois, the St. Louis City Cir. Ct. in Missouri has now also granted a defendant's personal jurisdiction motion in the Alan Moore case (icon STL_Missouri_Order_granting_PJ Motion.pdf (46 KB)). The court not only acknowledged the Daimler and Bristol Myers cases as dispositive of the issue, but also proceeded to declare the prior Missouri case law that held to the contrary was invalidated by the Daimler & Bristol Myers decisions.

It appears that even the courts, that are perceived to be the most likely to provide plaintiffs with an alternate path to obtaining jurisdiction over defendants in foreign jurisdictions, are falling in line with the U.S. Supreme Court's recent pronouncements.