• Delaware Court Clarifies Minimum Contacts Required for Jurisdiction
  • June 23, 2016 | Author: Armand J. Della Porta
  • Law Firm: Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, P.C. - Wilmington Office
  • The Delaware Supreme Court recently issued an opinion on the requirements for establishing minimum contacts to determine jurisdiction in Genuine Parts Co. v. Cepec, C.A. No. N156-02-184 (April 18, 2016). In an asbestos case, the court followed the U.S. Supreme Court case of Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S. Ct. 746 (2014), and held that a company not incorporated in Delaware and not satisfying the minimum contacts requirements of the long arm statute is not subject to jurisdiction in the state of Delaware.

    Genuine Parts Co., a GA corporation, had appointed a registered agent to accept service of process. Genuine Parts was sued in an asbestos personal injury case where the plaintiff was not from Delaware, nor was his alleged exposure in Delaware. Genuine Parts filed a motion to dismiss, which the trial court denied. Genuine Parts appealed the decision to the Delaware Supreme Court, which reversed the trial court decision and held there was no jurisdiction over that defendant.

    In explaining its decision, the court held that the defendant did not have its principal place of business in Delaware and found there was no other basis on which it could be established that Delaware was its home.  The court concluded there was no basis for the plaintiff to establish specific jurisdiction over the nonresident defendant under the long arm statute or principles of due process.  Hence,  jurisdiction did not exist, and the defendant was entitled to be dismissed.

    Previously, registering and consenting to service in Delaware equated to consenting to personal jurisdiction. Distinguishing and re-interpreting prior case law examining Delaware's long arm statute under Daimler, the court found that merely maintaining a registered agent in the jurisdiction was insufficient to establish jurisdiction.