|Galier v. Murco Wall Products, 2022 OK 85
|October 25, 2022
|Oklahoma County; Judge Dixon
|Route to this Court:
|Certiorari to the Court of Civil Appeals, Division I
|An Oklahoma resident, Galier, was exposed to asbestos in Oklahoma in the 1970s. At that time, Murco, a Texas company, sold an asbestos joint compound in Oklahoma. In 2012, Galier was diagnosed with mesothelioma. Galier brough suit in Oklahoma County District Court and Murco moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. The trial court denied the motion to dismiss and a jury returned a verdict for Galier in 2015. The Court of Civil Appeals affirmed and the Oklahoma Supreme Court denied certiorari. The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari, vacated the Court of Civil Appeals decision, and remanded for consideration in light of its recent case Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California v. Superior Court of California, 137, S. Ct. 1773 (2017). The Court of Civil reaffirmed the district court and the Oklahoma Supreme Court granted certiorari to address whether the Court of Civil Appeals properly found that Oklahoma possesses specific personal jurisdiction over Murco.
|Standard of Review:
|A trial court’s determination of personal jurisdiction is a question of law reviewed de novo.
|Oklahoma’s long-arm statute extends the jurisdiction of this State to the outer limits of the Oklahoma Constitution and the Constitution of the United States. Due process requires that a nonresident defendant possess “certain minimum contacts” with the forum such that the maintenance of suit is reasonable in the context of our federal system of government and does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice in order to subject a defendant to a judgment in personam.
This case is about specific jurisdiction, as opposed to general jurisdiction (e.g., “continuous and systematic affiliation” such as in the case of a resident or the principal place of business of a corporation). To assert specific jurisdiction over a defendant, the defendant must perform some act by which the defendant purposefully avails itself of the privilege of conducting activities within the forum State. Murco contends that Myers Squibb Co. requires Glier to trace the Murco asbestos joint compound that he was injured by, in Oklahoma, to one of the documented sales of Murcho product to Oklahoma customers. We do not agree that Galier’s burden is so high.
Murco’s contacts with Oklahoma were not random, isolated, or fortuitous. Rather, Murco chose to reach out beyond Texas and deliberately exploit the market in Oklahoma by selling over 24,000 units of harmful asbestos joint compound to Oklahoma over the course of two years. In addition, Murco worked with a local Oklahoma company to private label Murco’s product for resale in Oklahoma.
Even when the defendant has purposefully availed himself of the forum and the case arises out of or relates to those contacts, the court must still consider a variety of “reasonableness” interests to determine if personal jurisdiction is present. Those factors all weigh in favor of it being reasonable to subject Murco to personal jurisdiction in this case.
|8-0; Darby, C.J.(author), Kane, V.C.J., Winchester, Edmondson, Gurich, Rowe, Kuehn (by separate writing), J.J. and Lewis, S.J., concur. Kauger, J., recused; Combs, J. disqualified.
|J. Kuehn in her separate writing succinctly summarized the relevant rule as, “[i]f you bring your toys to the sandbox, you play by the sandbox rules.”