Ramsey County District Court File No. C2-01-7283
Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge; Toussaint, Chief Judge;
and Shumaker, Judge.
A nonresident manufacturer that places its component part in the stream-of-commerce but thereafter has no further involvement in marketing or distribution and has no contact with the forum state does not have minimum contacts sufficient for personal jurisdiction.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Toussaint, Chief Judge.
Appellant James Juelich, a Minnesota resident, was injured by a scissor-lift table manufactured by respondent Meikikou. Juelich sued Meikikou, appellant Yamazaki, the manufacturer of a component of the table, and appellant Mazak Corporation, an international distributor. The district court dismissed respondent Meikikou for lack of personal jurisdiction, and appellants challenge the dismissal in consolidated appeals. Because the district court did not err in concluding that there were insufficient contacts for personal jurisdiction and that respondent had not consented to personal jurisdiction by its actions in bringing a third-party lawsuit and engaging in cross-claims, we affirm.
After a January 25, 2001 work-related injury, appellant James Juelich commenced this personal injury and products liability action in district court. Respondent Meikikou Corporation was first named in and served with the second amended complaint in June 2001.
Juelich's injury arose from his maintenance work on a scissor-lift table, which collapsed on his arm. The table was manufactured by respondent Meikikou Corporation, a foreign corporation with its principal place of business in Japan. The table was a component part of a Super Turbo X510 system that also included a laser-cutting machine manufactured by respondent Yamazaki Mazak Optonics Corporation (YMO), a Japanese corporation doing business in Japan. Respondent Mazak Nissho Iwai (MANI), an Illinois corporation, is the international distributor of the system purchased by Aries Precision Sheet Metal Company, a Minnesota corporation and Juelich's employer. The Minnesota supplier of the system, Gladwin Machinery & Supply Company, was dismissed from the suit by agreement of the parties.
On July 6, 2001, Meikikou answered the complaint and asserted lack of personal jurisdiction as an affirmative defense. It then served a cross-claim against Gladwin and a third-party claim against Aries and signed a stipulation allowing cross-claims among Meikikou, YMO, and MANI. Beginning October 30, 2001, Meikikou also commenced discovery, serving requests and responses.
On June 24, 2002, Meikikou moved for dismissal based on lack of personal jurisdiction. Juelich, YMO, and MANI opposed the motion to dismiss, which was heard, along with Juelich's motion to compel Meikikou to produce discovery, on September 26, 2002. In its October 1, 2002 order, the district court ordered Meikikou to completely answer discovery requests and to produce for deposition Meikikou representatives, including Tsutomu Odaguchi, its Managing Director and General Manager of Development.
After receiving letters and Odaguchi deposition excerpts submitted by Meikikou and YMO, the court granted Meikikou's motion to dismiss on November 15, 2002 and subsequently entered judgment on February 4, 2003. Juelich, filed a notice of appeal, which was followed shortly thereafter by YMO and MANI's joint appeals. The appeals were consolidated by this court.
The scissor-lift table involved in Juelich's accident was manufactured by Meikikou at its factory in Japan in 1999. Meikikou sold the table to Ishihara Shoji, a Japanese distributor. On instruction from Shoji, Meikikou delivered the table to Seiko Keisakusho. Meikikou understood at all times that the table would eventually be delivered to YMO and that the table was a component part to the YMO Super Turbo X510 laser-cutting machine, loading system and unloading system.
YMO integrated the table into its laser-cutting machine and sold the system to MANI, the Illinois distributor. MANI then sold the system to Gladwin, MANI's Minnesota distributor, which distributed it to Aries in St. Paul. YMO assembled its laser-cutting machine, but did not assemble the scissor-lift table. YMO did not provide any oral instructions or warnings to Juelich or Aries, but written warnings were provided on various machine labels and in the manuals. YMO provided a copy of an operation manual for the scissor-lift table ...