April 29, 2021

Foley & Mansfield attorney Eddie Medina obtained a dismissal on behalf of an equipment manufacturer in a federal lung cancer case brought by a plaintiff alleging that he was exposed to asbestos from equipment he worked with during his service in the Navy. Defendant had filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, arguing that Plaintiff’s claims were not sufficiently related to the defendant’s contacts with the State of Florida.

Judge William F. Jung of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida (Tampa Division) granted our client’s motion to dismiss on the basis that the exercise of specific personal jurisdiction over it would violate federal due process requirements. In granting Defendant’s motion to dismiss, Judge Jung ruled that the defendant’s activities in Florida, including managing fuel tank lines in Florida airports and having an event-organizing business operating in the state, do not relate to Plaintiff’s claims of asbestos exposure and therefore are not sufficient to trigger specific personal jurisdiction over it.

The District Court’s ruling was particularly significant in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent opinion in Ford Motor Co. v. Montana Eighth Judicial District, 141 S. Ct. 1017 (2021). In Ford, the Supreme Court held that personal jurisdiction was present because Ford Motor Co. had contacts with the forum states that were sufficiently related to the plaintiffs’ claims insofar as Ford had advertised, sold, and serviced cars in the forum states for many years, including the car models that plaintiffs drove during their accidents. Judge Jung, applying Ford to Defendant’s motion to dismiss, held that what was missing in this matter was proof of “a strong relationship among the defendant, the forum, and the litigation – the essential foundation of specific jurisdiction.”

This decision is yet another important contribution to the law of personal jurisdiction in Florida as it builds on successful personal jurisdiction challenges Foley & Mansfield mounted in Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal (link to 12/12/18 FM news release “F & M Miami Mounts Another Successful Appeal on Personal Jurisdiction”) and Fourth District Court of Appeal (link to 8/9/18 FM news release “Miami Team Mounts Successful Personal Jurisdiction Appeal”), and does so in the wake of the Supreme Court’s consequential Ford decision.

The case is titled Norman Israel v. Advance Auto Parts, Inc., United States District Court Middle District of Florida (Tampa Division) Case No. 8:20-cv-2133-WFJ-AAS.