A Capehart Scatchard Blog

No Personal Jurisdiction Found for India Company that Sold Machine Causing Plaintiff’s Injury

By on November 7, 2014 in Blog with 0 Comments

Plaintiff Rajnikant Patel claimed to be injured at work while working on a tablet press machine manufactured by the defendant Karnavati Engineering, Ltd. (“Karnavati”), a corporation located in India.  In Patel v. Karnavati America, LLC, 2014 N.J. Super. LEXIS 139 (App. Div. Oct. 9, 2014), the defendant Karnavati claimed that the court in New Jersey had no personal jurisdiction over it and, as a result, the plaintiff’s complaint should be dismissed.

Karnavati filed a motion to dismiss on that basis, which was denied by the trial court judge. Karnavati then appealed, claiming the judge’s finding of minimum contacts led to an erroneous legal conclusion.

The defendant, which manufactured the machine, was incorporated and operates in India. It did not ship the machine to the United States. Further, it has no contacts with the State of New Jersey. It is not registered to do business in the State; does not advertise in New Jersey; has never solicited business from or paid taxes to the State; has never attended any trade shows and has never sent any employees to New Jersey. Additionally, Karnavati has never owned any real or personal property in New Jersey, had any bank accounts in the State or maintained insurance for products liability conduct in the State.

Karnavati sold the machine to GlobePharma, Inc. (“Globe”), which had its place of business in New Brunswick. The machine was sent by sea to Globe, which took possession of it in Mumbai, India. Globe thereafter sold the machine to plaintiff’s employer Neil Laboratories, a company located in New Jersey.

The trial judge concluded that New Jersey courts had jurisdiction because there was a sufficient showing that the machine was made for and sold to a New Jersey company, for the purpose of being used in New Jersey. The judge reasoned that Karnavati has availed itself of this jurisdiction and, therefore, the New Jersey courts had personal jurisdiction over Karnavati.

The Appellate Division disagreed with the trial court’s decision. No one disputed that Karnavati lacked sufficient continuous contacts with New Jersey to warrant an exercise of general jurisdiction. The trial judge, however, believed that the facts supported an application of specific jurisdiction.

The defendant contended that the single sale of a product to an independent corporation in India, even if accompanied by the knowledge the product will be delivered to a user in New Jersey, is insufficient to allow the application of long-arm jurisdiction. The Appellate Division agreed with this position, that such single sale failed to provide the requisite facts to justify the exercise of jurisdiction.

The plaintiff failed to identify specific actions by Karnavati which demonstrated its desire to conduct business in New Jersey. The appeals court refused to conclude that the sale of this single machine to Globe for resale in New Jersey showed Karnavati’s purpose availment of business opportunities that support the exercise of personal jurisdiction in New Jersey. The Appellate Division found these acts were insufficient to support the conclusion that Karnavati’s conduct surrounding the sale of this machine “constituted purposeful acts for which Karnavati would be on notice that it would be subject to suit in New Jersey.” Hence, the appeals court reversed the trial court’s decision and dismissed the lawsuit as to Karnavati.

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About the Author

About the Author:

Ms. Ramos is an Executive Committee Member and Co-Chair of the Litigation Department at Capehart Scatchard, P.A. located in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. She is an experienced litigator with over 25 years experience handling diverse matters. Practice areas include tort defense, business litigation, estate litigation, tort claims and civil rights defense, construction litigation, insurance coverage, employment litigation, shareholder disputes, and general litigation.

For the years 2020 and 2021, Ms. Ramos was selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© in the practice area of Litigation - Insurance. The attorneys on this list are selected based upon the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area. A complete description of The Best Lawyers in America© methodology can be viewed via their website at: https://www.bestlawyers.com/methodology.

In 2021, Capehart Scatchard and Ms. Ramos received the “Best Law Firm” ranking in the area of Litigation – Insurance (Metro, Tier 3) published by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers®. Law firms included on the list are recognized for professional excellence with consistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. To be eligible for a ranking, a firm must have at least one attorney who has been included in the current edition of Best Lawyers in America, which recognizes the top five percent of practicing lawyers in the United States. Betsy Ramos (Litigation – Insurance) was recognized for this prestigious award in the 2021 edition. For a description of the “Best Law Firm” selection methodology please visit: https://bestlawfirms.usnews.com/methodology.aspx.

“Best Law Firms” is published by Best Lawyers in partnership with U.S. News & World Report. For a description of the selection methodology please visit: https://bestlawfirms.usnews.com/methodology.aspx.

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