News & Articles

10 July 2015

Daimler jurisdiction defense gains momentum: Gunty & McCarthy leads the charge

The federal court in the Southern District of Illinois has recently issued an order granting a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction pursuant to the recent icon Daimler AG v. Bauman 134 S. Ct. 746 (2014)decision of the U.S. Supreme Court (see attached). The court acknowledged that the defendant Honeywell definitely had business ties to the state of Illinois. However, those ties did not amount to Honeywell being at home in the state of Illinois and consequently, the court held fast to the U.S. Supreme Court’s rule that the mere presence of a defendant in the forum does not subject it to all-purpose jurisdiction in that forum. The motion to dismiss was granted.

In January 2014, the United States Supreme Court handed down the landmark Daimler decision redefining the criteria on which to base whether a state court can maintain personal jurisdiction over a foreign corporate defendant. The Supreme Court held that a defendant’s principal place of business and where the business is incorporated are the two most critical factors in the authority of a state court’s exercise of jurisdiction. Whether a defendant simply conducted business in the state in which it has been sued, and the defendant’s other contacts with the state, were found to be much less important.

Almost immediately after the Supreme Court released this decision, our office became the first to raise this defense in the context of Madison and Cook Counties, Illinois asbestos litigation. We closely tracked the pleadings in all asbestos cases in both of those counties as part of our routine case workup, as do other defense firms. In doing so, we took note of the fact that several months had passed from when we began asserting the defense on behalf of our clients, where applicable, before other firms, in either Madison or Cook County, began raising personal jurisdiction defenses based on this legal authority. Subsequently, many co-defendants in those jurisdictions followed our lead in drafting responsive pleadings for this defense. We intend to bolster our pursuit of such jurisdiction arguments, where applicable, using this new ruling by the federal court in the Southern District of Illinois (which incidentally includes Madison County, IL).