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Lorix v. Crompton Corp.

June 02, 2004

DIANE LORIX, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, RESPONDENT,
v.
CROMPTON CORPORATION, ET AL., DEFENDANTS, FLEXSYS NV, ET AL., APPELLANTS.



Hennepin County District Court File No. 02-19278.

Considered and decided by Wright, Presiding Judge; Schumacher, Judge; and Willis, Judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

An out-of-state corporation's simple commercial contacts, unrelated to the plaintiff's claims, do not, standing alone, constitute continuous and systematic business contacts in Minnesota that form a basis for personal jurisdiction.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Willis, Judge

Reversed

OPINION

On appeal from a district court order denying appellants' motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, appellants argue that the district court erroneously concluded that it could exercise personal jurisdiction over appellants. Because we conclude that respondent has not shown sufficient contacts for the exercise of either specific or general jurisdiction, we reverse.

FACTS

Respondent Diane Lorix's amended class-action complaint alleges that appellants Flexsys NV and Flexsys America LP (collectively "Flexsys") conspired with the other named defendants to fix the prices of certain rubber-processing products, in violation of Minn. Stat. §§ 325D.49-.66D (2002), the Minnesota Antitrust Law. The complaint alleges that Flexsys, along with the other defendants, produce most of the rubber-processing chemicals sold in the United States and, in turn, sell most of those chemicals to automobile-tire manufacturers. Lorix brought suit in Minnesota district court on behalf of a putative class consisting of "[a]ll persons who purchased tires in the State of Minnesota other than for resale from January 1, 1994 to the present which were manufactured using rubber-processing chemicals sold by Defendants." In her amended class-action complaint, Lorix maintains that (1) the alleged price-fixing conspiracy had the "effect of fixing, raising, stabilizing, and maintaining the price for rubber-processing chemicals sold to tire manufacturers," (2) the tire manufacturers passed the supracompetitive price on to consumers, and (3) thus, Minnesota consumers paid more for tires manufactured with Flexsys's rubber-processing chemicals than they would have paid absent the conspiracy. The complaint seeks recovery of the overcharges paid by Minnesota consumers as a result of the alleged conspiracy; similar actions have been filed against the same defendants in 18 other jurisdictions.*fn1

Flexsys NV is headquartered in Belgium and Flexsys America LP, which is the United States subsidiary of Flexsys NV, is a Delaware limited partnership with its headquarters located in Akron, Ohio. Neither is licensed to do business in Minnesota or has any employees, sales agents, or business operations in Minnesota. Flexsys moved to dismiss Lorix's claim on the ground that the Minnesota district court lacks personal jurisdiction over Flexsys. The district court denied the motion, and this appeal follows.

ISSUE

Did the district court err by denying appellants' motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction?

ANALYSIS

An order denying a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction is appealable as a matter of right. Stanek v. A.P.I., Inc., 474 N.W.2d 829, 831 (Minn. App. ...


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