“If far-flung plaintiffs from all over the country may now sue in Missouri based solely on a defendant’s third-party contacts there, then nationwide firms may soon need to rethink doing business in Missouri.”
—Cory Andrews, WLF Vice President of Litigation

Click here for WLF’s brief.

WASHINGTON, DC—Yesterday Washington Legal Foundation (WLF) asked the Supreme Court of Missouri to review a decision that would give a Missouri court specific jurisdiction over the claims of 17 out-of-state plaintiffs—based solely on the defendant’s business contacts with a third party in Missouri.

In Ingham v. Johnson & Johnson, a Missouri trial court jointly tried the claims of 22 plaintiffs from around the country. Each plaintiff alleged that using the defendant’s talcum powder caused her to develop cancer. The appeals court affirmed, holding that the defendant’s third-party contacts with a Missouri entity supplied Missouri courts with the needed jurisdictional hook—even though all relevant corporate decision-making about the defendant’s product occurred in New Jersey.

In its amicus curiae brief urging the court to grant review, WLF argues that the appeals court’s decision improperly expands specific jurisdiction to allow suit virtually anywhere a company engages a third party as part of the manufacturing or distribution process. That is too grasping and impractical a rule, WLF contends, especially in the modern global economy, where manufacturing and distribution chains run across state and national borders. Such a rule, if allowed to stand, would deprive all litigants of much-needed certainty.

WLF’s amicus brief was submitted with the pro bono assistance of Mark Sableman of Thompson Coburn LLP.

Celebrating its 43rd year, WLF is America’s premier public-interest law firm and policy center advocating for free-market principles, limited government, individual liberty, and the rule of law.