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PERSONAL JURISDICTION / PRODUCTS LIABILITY - HINRICHS V. GENERAL MOTORS OF CANADA, LTD.

Hinrichs v. General Motors of Canada, Ltd., [Ms. 1140711, June 24, 2016] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2016). Here, the Court affirms the dismissal of an action under the AEMLD against GM-Canada for want of personal jurisdiction.

The Court first reiterates the standard of review in considering a Rule 12(b)(2) Ala. R. Civ. P. motion to dismiss for want of personal jurisdiction:

II. Standard of Review

In Corporate Waste Alternatives, Inc. v. McLane Cumberland, Inc., 896 So. 2d 410, 413 (Ala. 2004), this Court repeated the standard of review applicable in a case such as this:

"We discussed the standard of review applicable to a ruling on a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction in Wenger Tree Service v. Royal Truck & Equipment, Inc., 853 So. 2d 888, 894 (Ala. 2002):

"'In considering a Rule 12(b)(2), Ala. R. Civ. P., motion to dismiss for want of personal jurisdiction, a court must consider as true the allegations of the plaintiff's complaint not controverted by the defendant's affidavits, Robinson v. Giarmarco & Bill, P.C., 74 F.3d 253 (11th Cir. 1996), and Cable/Home Communication Corp. v. Network Productions, Inc., 902 F.2d 829 (11th Cir. 1990), and 'where the plaintiff's complaint and the defendant's affidavits conflict, the ... court must construe all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff.' Robinson, 74 F.3d at 255 (quoting Madara v. Hall, 916 F.2d 1510, 1514 (11th Cir. 1990)). 'For purposes of this appeal [on the issue of in personam jurisdiction] the facts as alleged by the ... plaintiff will be considered in a light most favorable to him [or her].' Duke v. Young, 496 So. 2d 37, 38 (Ala. 1986)."

"'Ex parte McInnis, 820 So. 2d 795, 798 (Ala. 2001). "An appellate court considers de novo a trial court's judgment on a party's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction." Elliott v. Van Kleef, 830 So. 2d 726, 729 (Ala. 2002).'"

Ms. *9-10.

Next, the Court examines principles of general and specific jurisdiction in the context of a product liability action against a manufacturer which manufactures the product in a jurisdiction other than Alabama. As to general jurisdiction, the Court cites Ms. *19-22 (Daimler AG v. Bauman, 571 U.S. __, 134 S.Ct. 746 (2014)) to hold "[t]he inquiry as to general jurisdiction ... is not whether [the product manufacturer] contacts with Alabama are in some way 'continuous and systematic,' but whether its contacts with Alabama are so 'continuous and systematic' that it is essentially 'at home' here." Ms. *22, quoting Daimler, 564 U.S. at 919 (underlined emphasis in original).

As to specific jurisdiction, relying upon Walden v. Fiore, 571 U.S. ___, 134 S.Ct. 1115 (2014), the Court (Ms. *47-51) concludes that "for specific jurisdiction to exist, [the product manufacturer's] in-state activity must 'g[i]ve rise to the episode-in-suit,' ... and involve 'adjudication of issues deriving from, or connected with, the very controversy that establishes jurisdiction." "[T]he defendant's suit-related conduct must create a substantial connection with the forum State." Ms. *51, quoting Walden, 571 U.S. at ____, 134 S.Ct. at 1121 (underlined emphasis in original). Thus, "unilateral activity [such as the victim bringing an automobile into Alabama in which the manufacturer did not participate] is not an appropriate consideration when determining whether a defendant has sufficient contacts with a forum state to justify an assertion of jurisdiction." Ms. at *57, quoting Walden, 571 U.S. at ___, 134 S.Ct. at 1122.

Note that this is a per curiam opinion (Stuart, Acting Chief Justice, Main, and Bryan, JJ., and Lyons, Special Justice, concurring; Bolin, J., concurring in part and concurring in the result; Parker, Murdock, and Wise, JJ., dissenting; Shaw, J., recused). An application for rehearing is anticipated.

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