Indian Wells Appellate Partner Wendy S. Dowse, New York Appellate Partner James M. Strauss, and Newark Partner James S. Rehberger recently prevailed in a discretionary appeal when the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey held that the lower court erroneously denied Lewis Brisbois’ manufacturer client’s motion to dismiss after improperly determining that the company was subject to New Jersey’s jurisdiction based on an insufficiently-developed record.
As reported by Law360, the plaintiff in this product liability action filed suit against Lewis Brisbois’ client, a South Korean lithium-ion battery manufacturer, alleging that a lithium-ion battery cell he purchased from a New Jersey vape shop exploded in his pocket, causing severe burn injuries. The battery cell that the company allegedly manufactured was not a consumer product, but rather an industrial component product designed for use in battery packs, power tools, and other applications.
Lewis Brisbois moved to dismiss the complaint, contending that the plaintiff had failed to serve the manufacturer properly in accordance with the Hague Service Convention requirements and, alternatively, that the company did not have the requisite minimum contacts with New Jersey to justify exercising personal jurisdiction. The trial court denied the motion to dismiss.
After a motion for leave to appeal was summarily denied by the Appellate Division, Lewis Brisbois filed a motion for leave to appeal in the New Jersey Supreme Court. This motion was granted, and the New Jersey Supreme Court subsequently transferred the case back to the Appellate Division for consideration of the merits of the appeal.
The New Jersey Appellate Division reversed the trial court’s order denying the manufacturer’s motion to dismiss, holding that the trial court applied the wrong legal standard to an insufficiently developed legal record. Accordingly, the Appellate Division remanded for jurisdictional discovery followed by an evidentiary hearing.