Sometimes it can be easy to believe that a random thought can conjure a real-life response. Such as when you imagine yourself taking a vacation to someplace warm and tropical (not at all brought on by mid-January temps in the Mid-Atlantic) and suddenly every other commercial you see has a palm tree, a hammock, and white sands. For a brief second, it’s like your television is talking directly to you. We understand in this day and age of targeted advertising based on search history it’s a little less remarkable, but nonetheless.
So too do we here at the DDL blog sometimes post on a topic only to have a decision directly on point come down just a short time later. That is precisely what happened with our post Are Defendants Entitled to Jurisdictional Discovery? A little less than one month later, the District of Utah answered that question in the affirmative in Young v. Bridgestone Ams. Tire Operations, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3053 (D. Utah Jan. 6, 2021). We refer you back to our earlier post for additional authority on the subject, which has since been updated with Young, and our thoughts on why such discovery is supported by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court, 137 S. Ct. 1773 (2017).
In Young, plaintiffs were injured in an automobile accident which they alleged was caused by a defective tire on the vehicle that struck them. Young, at *2. Plaintiffs’ complaint contained 71 separate allegations regarding personal jurisdiction but none that actually demonstrated that plaintiffs’ cause of action arises out of defendant’s contacts with Utah. For example, while alleging the tire was marketed and sold in Utah, plaintiffs offered no supporting details such as when or where the sale occurred or who made the purchase. So, defendant moved to dismiss and requested permission to conducted limited jurisdictional discovery to determine
whether the Plaintiffs can establish any specific connection between any actions by [Defendant], the specific product at issue, and the accident that forms the basis of Plaintiffs’ cause of action.
Id. at *3. Currently, all that is known is that the tire was designed in Ohio and manufactured in Canada, neither of which support jurisdiction in Utah. Id. Defendant, however, supported its motion with an affidavit setting out the general process by which defendant’s product is distributed and facts regarding defendant’s business activities in Utah. Id. While not spelled out in the opinion, court filings indicate that defendant sells most of its product to original equipment vehicle manufacturers or to distributors outside of Utah. See Docket No. 11.
Therefore, the court concluded that evidence may exist to refute plaintiffs’ jurisdictional allegations and since that evidence is not in the possession of defendant, it is entitled to conduct discovery to challenge plaintiffs’ allegations. Young, at *4. If defendant’s contentions are accurate, the discovery is likely to bear out either that defendant did not sell the tire in Utah or that plaintiffs cannot meet their burden of proof that it was sold in Utah. Because the discovery will aid the court in addressing the motion to dismiss, defendant’s request was granted.
Side note: many of plaintiffs’ 71 personal jurisdiction allegations go to general jurisdiction which defendant challenged in its motion as well. Reading between the lines, we don’t think the court was very interested in plaintiffs’ general jurisdiction arguments, keeping the focus squarely on the actions of the defendant as they relate to the specific product at issue.