Talc Defendant Found to Have Consented to Personal Jurisdiction in Denial of its Motion to Dismiss

Talcum powder on black background

Nancy Bors, as administrator of the Estate of Maureen Milliken, brought this action against Imerys Talc America Inc. and Johnson and Johnson for claims in negligence for their “design, development, manufacture, testing, packaging, promoting, marketing, distribution, labeling, and/or sale of Johnson and Johnson baby powder” Milliken allegedly developed and died from ovarian cancer.

Imerys moved to dismiss and argued that the court lacked jurisdiction or in the alternative for failure to state a claim. Specific to its argument, Imerys took the position that it had not availed itself to Pennsylvania by virtue of registering as a foreign corporation. In the alternative, Imerys argued that notwithstanding jurisdiction, the court should dismiss as Bors lacked standing under the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (UTPCPL). The plaintiff argued that jurisdiction existed by Imerys having registered to do business in Pennsylvania. The court agreed with the plaintiff and stated that jurisdiction was present based on consent. Further, the court found that the plaintiff had stated a claim under the UTPCPL.

In its analysis, the court noted that personal jurisdiction is established by consent to general jurisdiction, general jurisdiction, or specific jurisdiction. The court relied heavily on state procedures and the Bane case which set whether a corporation consents to personal jurisdiction. Based on Pennsylvania law, personal jurisdiction is imposed upon a business if it qualifies as a foreign corporation. Imerys argued that the court should “overrule” Bane as it did not comport with due process under the 14th Amendment. Imerys took the position that a defendant’s “substantial, continuous, and systematic contacts with a state alone is not sufficient” to create personal jurisdiction. The court was not persuaded and found that under Daimler that general jurisdiction “may be established in showing a corporation is at home” or “separately general jurisdiction may be established by a corporation’s consent to such jurisdiction.”

As for standing, the court also found that Bors had standing under the UTPCPL as Bors had alleged that Milliken “purchased and used Johnson and Johnson powder. Secondly, Milliken had allegedly been injured. Finally, the plaintiff had allegedly relied upon the defendants’ misrepresentations. Bors similarly stated a claim for negligence, civil conspiracy and concerted action.

Read the full decision here.

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