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Jurisdiction Issue in Florida Product Liability Case

pillsProduct liability cases are complex, and they can become even more complicated when a foreign company is involved. At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon, our Miami product liability lawyers understand the nuances of this area of law and can put our knowledge to use in your case.

In Teva Pharmaceutical Industries v. Ruiz, a Florida resident was seriously and permanently injured after the propofol administered to him was contaminated with dangerous bacteria. The medication was manufactured by an Israel-based drug maker known as Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. The man sued the drug company for his harm.

The drug manufacturer responded by filing a motion to dismiss based on lack of personal jurisdiction. The issue in the case became whether a plaintiff can sue a foreign drug manufacturer when the incident took place in Florida.

As a matter of law, state courts always have personal jurisdiction over Florida residents. However, for a court to have personal jurisdiction over a foreign defendant, that defendant needs to have sufficient minimum contacts with the respective state to satisfy due process requirements. In the case at hand, the minimum contacts requirement could be satisfied by showing that the drug company conducted business within the state in which the lawsuit was filed.

The trial court held a hearing to weigh all the evidence but ultimately denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss due to a lack of personal jurisdiction.

The defendants appealed. On appeal, the defendants claimed the court did not have jurisdiction because the company did not have any connection to the state. The appellate court explained that a court has to examine the minimum contacts rule when deciding issues of jurisdiction. Additionally, a court needs to consider whether extending jurisdiction would “offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.”

Furthermore, the court noted that jurisdiction could be specific or general. If the defendant has many contacts and lots of activity in a state, the state will typically have general jurisdiction over the defendant. Specific jurisdiction, on the other hand, is when a defendant engages in an isolated act, and the court has jurisdiction over that particular act.

Upon reviewing the evidence submitted to the lower court, the appellate court stated that the trial court lacked general jurisdiction over the defendant. The court reversed the trial court’s denial of the defendant’s motion to dismiss, saying there were enough persuasive arguments on both sides to have an evidentiary hearing as to whether or not the trial court had specific jurisdiction as well as whether the defendant had sufficient contact with Florida to satisfy the due process requirements of jurisdiction.

If you have been injured by a defective drug or product, it is important to seek the help of a qualified product liability attorney in the Miami area. We have the skill, knowledge, and determination to handle complex personal injury cases. We understand that this area of law can be very daunting, which is why we are here to answer your questions and address your concerns. We will work diligently to get you the justice and compensation you deserve for your harm. We represent clients across South Florida. To learn more, call us at 1-877-499-HURT (4878) or contact us online.

More Blog Posts:

Florida Supreme Court Clarifies Test in Product Liability Cases, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, November 10, 2015

Florida Man Alleges Nursing Home Failed to Save his Mother from Choking, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, November 10, 2015

Florida Water Park Injuries, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, November 10, 2015