A federal court in Texas has determined that it has general jurisdiction over a South Africa-based company sued for injury to an infant allegedly caused by its infant seat product and thus denied the company’s motion to dismiss. Hess v. Bumbo Int’l Trust F/K/A Jonibach Mgmt. Trust, No. 12-0040 (U.S. Dist. Ct., S.D. Tex., Victoria Div., order entered June 20, 2013).
According to the court, nearly one-fourth of the 3.85 million baby seats the company sold in the United States were distributed by Texas-based Wartburg Enterprises, Inc. And for part of the companies’ seven-year relationship, Wartburg was Bumbo International’s exclusive U.S. importer and distributor. The court also noted that when the Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled the Bumbo Baby Seat® in 2007, Warburg’s vice president coordinated the recall and served as Bumbo’s U.S. representative. In this capacity, he served as a liaison between the agency and the company, made and distributed instruction leaflets for Bumbo customers and was involved in developing new product warnings and packaging. This activity, in terms of longevity, continuity and volume “establish the type of contacts that allow Bumbo to be considered ‘at home’ in Texas,” the court said.