The U.S. Supreme Court has let stand an Oregon Supreme Court determination that courts in that state have jurisdiction over a Taiwan-based company in a wrongful death lawsuit involving a purportedly defective wheelchair battery charger. China Terminal & Elec. Corp. v. Willemsen, No. 12-525 (U.S., cert. denied January 22, 2013). Additional information about the case appears in the August 9, 2012, issue of this Report.
The case was before the Oregon high court for reconsideration in light of J. McIntyre Machinery, Ltd. v. Nicastro, 131 S. Ct. 2780 (2011), a decision that fractured the U.S. Supreme Court, which was called on to reconsider its “stream of commerce” theory of personal jurisdiction in deciding whether a state court could hear claims involving a foreign manufacturer. The Oregon court focused on the number of wheelchairs equipped with the Taiwanese company’s battery chargers sold in the United States—more than 1,000 of which made their way to Oregon—to distinguish J. McIntyre, which involved a manufacturer that had sold no more than a few of the company’s metal-cutting machines in New Jersey.