Long Arm Jurisdiction Upheld Against Asbestos Broker
In this case, it is alleged that the decedent, Donald Noll, was exposed to asbestos from asbestos-cement pipe manufactured by CertainTeed Corporation while he worked for a construction company in Port Orchard, Washington, between 1977 and 1979. The case was sued in Washington against several defendants, including Special Electric, which was a Wisconsin-based corporation. While Special had offices in up to eight different states to help with the delivery of asbestos, it did not have an office or any staff in Washington. The plaintiff asserted specific personal jurisdiction over Special under Washington’s long-arm statute.
Special moved for a dismissal and the plaintiff opposed, arguing that Washington may exercise specific personal jurisdiction over Special under the stream-of-commerce doctrine. The trial court dismissed the complaint. On appeal, the court reviewed the record, which showed that Special supplied asbestos to CertainTeed, which was used to make up to at least 55,000 linear feet of pipe that was shipped to buyers in Washington between 1977 and 1979. In reversing the lower court’s decision, the court held: “Special’s contacts with Washington were systematic. They were not random, isolated, fortuitous, attenuated, or anomalous. Pipe containing Special’s asbestos flowed into Washington in the regular stream of commerce, not in a mere eddy. Special benefited indirectly from the laws of Washington that protected the marketing, sale, and use of asbestos pipe in Washington during the years that Donald Noll was exposed to it. Having accepted that benefit, Special cannot claim that its relationship with Washington lacked purpose.”
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