Missouri Federal Court Finds No Specific Jurisdiction Over Kansas Knee Implant

Author:Mr Stephen J. McConnell
Profession:Reed Smith

Missouri courts keep showing us surprisingly good things on the personal jurisdiction front. In Mitchell v. DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92621 (W.D. Missouri June 3, 2019), the plaintiff twice had a knee replacement implant while she lived in Kansas, then sued in Missouri, claiming that, after she moved there, that is where she suffered injuries and where she sought treatment for her injuries. She alleged negligence, strict liability, breach of warranty, misrepresentation, fraud — all based on the defendants' design, license, manufacture, distribution, sale, and marketing of the medical devices. The defendants moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, contending that all of the plaintiff's claims arose out of events that took place in Kansas, not Missouri.

If any of this sounds familiar, it should. Less than a month ago we reported on another Missouri case where the plaintiff had moved in from out of state. And if it occurs to you that this is two days in a row of personal jurisdiction cases - well, congrats, you are one of our truly loyal and attentive readers.

The plaintiff in Mitchell conceded that the Missouri court lacked general jurisdiction over the defendants, but argued that specific jurisdiction existed because the plaintiff suffered injuries in Missouri, plus the defendants did plenty of marketing and selling of knee replacements in Missouri. The first point isn't wholly silly (though it still loses), but the second one is, at least for anyone who has kept up with specific jurisdiction case law over the last five years.

The Mitchell court began by reciting the Int'l Shoe "minimum contacts" and Burger King "purposeful directing activities toward forum residents" standards. Those old standards take one only so far. But the Mitchell court also invoked a couple of more recent tests that end up deciding this case:

  1. In Walden v. Fiore, 571 U.S. 277 (2014), SCOTUS held that contacts "that the defendant himself creates with the forum State serve as a basis for jurisdiction, ... but contacts formed by the mere unilateral activity of those who claim some relationship with a non-resident do not."

  2. In Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California, 137 S. Ct. 1773 (207), SCOTUS held that specific jurisdiction does not...

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