The Supreme Court of Texas recently issued an opinion in a lawsuit against an insulation products company. According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiffs built a home in Texas and purchased products from a spray foam insulation company. The insulation was designed to make the home quieter and energy efficient by sealing areas where air loss occurs. Shortly after the installation, the family began suffering from various ailments, including coughing spells, burning eyes, allergies, and headaches. The company advised the family that the spray foam smell would dissipate over time. The company then sent an “independent contractor” sales representative to inspect the property; however, the family never received the inspection results.
In response, the family filed a lawsuit against the spray foam company, alleging various claims, including products liability and negligence. They argued that their injuries arose from the sale and installation of the spray foam used in their home. In response, the company contended that because the company never sold or advertised any of the products in Texas, the state did not have jurisdiction over the matter. Further, they argued that they did not have any involvement with the company that inspected the property. The appeals court agreed, finding that the plaintiffs failed to establish that Texas had either general or specific personal jurisdiction over the defendants.
Under Texas law, a court must have subject matter and personal jurisdiction over the parties to issue a judgment. Texas courts can assert personal jurisdiction over a nonresident if the state’s long-arm statute permits exercising jurisdiction and comports with federal due-process guarantees. Specific jurisdiction applies when the defendant’s contact with the state is purposeful, and the cause of action arises from those contacts.
This case revolves around whether Texas has specific jurisdiction over the defendants. In evaluating specific jurisdiction, the court looks to whether the defendant purposefully availed itself of the privilege of conducting business within the state. Nonresident companies do not need to have offices of employees in a forum state to meet this prong. Instead, operation of sales and distribution in the forum state or directing marketing efforts in the forum state may render a company to the state’s jurisdiction.
In this case, the defendant maintains a distribution center in Texas. The company’s sales representative’s job was to “find customers” in Texas. They placed the products into the stream of commerce with the expectation they will serve consumers in Texas. Further, the lawsuit arises from the company’s contacts within Texas. As such, the Supreme Court found that the defendant has sufficient contacts with Texas to exercise specific jurisdiction.
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If you or someone you love has suffered injuries because of the negligence of another person, governmental entity, or company, the accident lawyers at Carabin Shaw can help. Our Texas personal injury attorneys provide accident victims and their families with excellent representation through every step of their claims. In addition to personal injury cases, we handle Texas wrongful death, medical malpractice, work injury, workers’ compensation, and nursing home abuse claims. Our attorneys possess the knowledge, skills, and resources that these cases require. We have recovered significant amounts of compensation on behalf of Texas injury victims. Contact our office at 800-862-1260 to schedule a free initial consultation with a Texas injury attorney on our team.