SHL Successfully Defends Order Dismissing Nonresident Defendants for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction

In Strasner v. Touchstone Wireless Repair and Logistics, LP, 5 Cal. App. 5th 215 (2016), plaintiff argued for general personal jurisdiction over four non-resident subsidiary companies based on their parent company’s presence in the forum.  The Court of Appeal upheld the trial court’s order quashing service of summons on the out-of-state defendants, ruling plaintiff, “ha[d] failed to satisfy her burden to establish that any of the Defendants have sufficient contacts with California to be subject to its general jurisdiction.”  Strasner, 5 Cal. App. 5th at 225.  The Court rejected plaintiff’s “reverse agency” theory, which argued general jurisdiction was proper because each defendant was an agent of the forum state parent.  Plaintiff’s argument was “at odds with the underlying principle of imputation through agency,” which up till now relied on a non-resident parent corporation’s power over the day-to-day operations of the resident subsidiary to establish personal jurisdiction; the Court also recognized that plaintiff made no showing of the pervasive, continual control required to support agency imputation.  Id. at 224.

Furthermore, the Court found plaintiff “ha[d] failed to establish any Defendant’s minimum contacts with California sufficient to allow for the exercise of specific jurisdiction.”  Id. at 233.  The Court ruled that plaintiff’s allegations that one defendant’s employee purportedly made an inappropriate posting on plaintiff’s Facebook page did not establish conduct expressly aimed at or targeted to California, with knowledge that such conduct would cause harm in the state.  Id. at 226-223.

Mark Slater, Elise Sara, and Neil Cooper represented Brightpoint, Inc., Brightpoint North America, L.P., Touchstone Wireless Repair and Logistics, L.P., and Touchstone Acquisition, LLC in the trial and appellate court proceedings.