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Procedural Barrier to Product Liability

by on March 19, 2012 » Add the first comment.

When you buy a product in your hometown location of a big chain store, it is no shock to look at the label and see that it was manufactured in a location as far away as the other side of the world.  But, if you were somehow injured by the product, assuming the product was defective and you have suffered a serious injury and significant expenses as a result, you might be shocked if someone said you had no right to sue the company in your state court. The ability to sue a company in this case would hinge on personal jurisdiction.

Jurisdiction is tied to the stream of commerce. In other words, unless the company that made the product intended to take advantage of the laws of your state, it is possible that the court in your state would not be a proper place for you to bring your lawsuit. Currently there are several different ways that courts can decide if there are enough facts to show that you should be able to bring a case against a foreign company in your state court.

In products liability cases, the display of intent to market to customers in a certain area may establish personal jurisdiction for an injured plaintiff. The court has to make that decision and sometimes it can be hard to predict the outcome.

Last year the Supreme Court made a decision that a worker who was injured by a machine did not have the right to bring suit against the company that manufactured it. The manufacturer of the machine agreed to work with a distributor who sold the machines in the U.S. where officials from the manufacturing company attended trade shows. Nevertheless, the Court said that the company didn’t intend to be involved with the local state laws because the company was from a foreign country that didn’t advertise in or specifically target sales in that specific state.

Another possible scenario might surprise you. Imagine you live in Arkansas, purchase passage for a cruise through a travel agent in Tennessee who forwards the payment to the cruise headquarters in Florida. Then you get on board the ship in Louisiana and sail to Mexico. What happens if you go to sleep in your bed and wake up with a concussion because a television fell on your head while you were asleep on the ship? Where would you file suit? The Supreme Court decided that you would have to file suit according to the forum selection clause on your ticket. If the cruise is headquartered in Florida, you just might have to go to Florida to find justice even though you live in Arkansas!

If you have been seriously injured, there are many problems that can stand in the way of getting your life back to normal. Sometimes the answer is committed, caring, and courageous representation. Call us for a free product liability case evaluation. 

Find more like this: Defective Products

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