On remand from the U.S. Supreme Court for reconsideration in light of J. McIntyre Machinery, Ltd. v. Nicastro, 131 S. Ct. 2780 (2011), the Oregon Supreme Court has determined that, consistent with due process, the court could exercise jurisdiction over Taiwanese company CTE Tech Corp. in a wrongful death suit alleging that its defective battery charger was responsible for a house fire. Willemsen v. Invacare Corp., No. S059201 (Ore., decided July 19, 2012).
CTE contended that Oregon could not exercise personal jurisdiction over it “when it has not purposefully availed itself of the privilege of conducting business in Oregon.” According to the complaint, more than 1,000 wheelchairs sold in Oregon by an Ohio-based defendant were equipped with CTE’s battery chargers; thus, CTE sold its battery chargers in Ohio with the expectation that they would then be distributed nationwide. According to CTE, under Nicastro, “the mere fact that it may have expected that its battery chargers might end up in Oregon is not sufficient to give Oregon courts specific jurisdiction over it.”
The court applied Justice Stephen Breyer’s concurring opinion, which relied on a standard articulated as a “regular … flow” or “regular course” of sales in the forum state, because its “rationale was narrower than the plurality’s and, as a result, controls our resolution of this case on remand.” While the court recognized that “nationwide distribution of a foreign manufacturer’s products is not sufficient to establish jurisdiction over the manufacturer when that effort results in only a single sale in the forum state,” because more than 1,100 CTE battery chargers had been sold within Oregon over a two-year period, a “regular … flow” or “regular course” of sales in Oregon can be shown. The court further distinguished Nicastro by noting that CTE was not a small manufacturer that had distributed only a few products in the state as a result of a national distribution system.
According to a news source, CTE intends to file a second petition for review before the U.S. Supreme Court. See Bloomberg BNA Product Safety & Liability Reporter, August 2, 2012.