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PERSONAL JURISDICTION - EX PARTE NORTHSTAR BATTERY COMPANY, LLC

In Ex parte Northstar Battery Company, LLC, [Ms. 1110612, Jun. 1, 2012] __ So. 3d __(Ala. 2012), the Supreme Court granted the defendant's petition for writ of mandamus and ordered the trial court to dismiss the plaintiff's claims against that defendant for lack of personal jurisdiction. The case involved a property damage claim arising from a fire that occurred during a construction project at a manufacturing plant in Springfield, Missouri. The plaintiff, Apel Steel, a subcontractor on the project, filed suit in Cullman County, Alabama against the owner of the project, Northstar Battery Company, LLC ("Northstar"), along with the general contractor and one of the plaintiff's subcontractors. The complaint stated that venue was proper in Cullman County, Alabama but did not contain any jurisdictional allegations. Thereafter, Northstar filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, arguing that the claims made by the plaintiff did not arise from events or omissions that occurred in Alabama. Northstar's motion was denied by the trial court. Northstar then petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus ordering the trial court to dismiss the case. In considering Northstar's petition, the Supreme Court began by noting that the plaintiff's failure to include any jurisdictional statements in its complaint relieved Northstar of the burden of producing evidence negating jurisdiction. In so doing, the Court rejected the plaintiff's argument that its statement that venue was proper in Cullman County was a statement of jurisdiction. Plaintiff offered no other evidence of jurisdiction over Northstar. As such and in the absence of additional evidence of jurisdiction, the Court concluded that plaintiff's complaint, standing alone, was insufficient to carry plaintiff's initial burden of establishing personal jurisdiction over Northstar. Consequently, the Supreme Court granted Northstar's petition and ordered the trial court to dismiss the plaintiff's claims against Northstar for lack of personal jurisdiction.
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