Swank v. Terex Utilities, Inc.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Procedure
  • Date Filed: 09-30-2015
  • Case #: A152465
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Armstrong, P.J. for the Court; Nakamoto, J.; & Tookey, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under ORCP 4 D, a trial court has specific jurisdiction over a defendant if there is a nexus between the forum state, that defendant, and the subject matter of the litigation. Under ORCP 4 A, a trial court lacks general jurisdiction over a defendant if the plaintiff fails to show that defendant had “substantial and not isolated” contacts within the forum state.

Plaintiff (“Swank”) appealed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment for Defendant (“Manitex”), arguing that the trial court erred by finding that it lacked personal jurisdiction over Manitex. Manitex is a Texas-based corporation that sells cranes and boom trucks. In 2003, Manitex purchased Phoenix Corporation’s share of SX57 cranes. Phoenix Corporation manufactured the SX57 crane at issue in this case. Shortly after purchase, Manitex learned of construction defects in the SX57 cranes, and began a field campaign to find, inspect, and repair the affected cranes. In 2005, Swank’s employer received notice of Manitex’s field campaign and responded by email and with an inspection report. Manitex did not reply. In 2008, Swank was working from the SX57 basket on the crane’s boom when the boom fell, injuring Swank. After the accident, Manitex communicated with Swank’s employer about the accident, and noted that the boom required retrofitting, as the old parts were not strong enough for the crane. Swank sued for negligent design, construction, and diligence in ensuring proper repairs were completed. The trial court granted Manitex’s motion for summary judgment by finding that it had neither general nor specific jurisdiction over Manitex based on Manitex’s lack of contacts in Oregon. On review, the Court agreed that there was no general jurisdiction under ORCP 4 A because Swank did not establish “substantial and not isolated activity” within Oregon. The Court determined that Manitex’s in-state activity—specifically the field campaign notifying purchasers about the defective crane—was sufficiently related to the litigation, thereby conferring specific jurisdiction pursuant to ORCP 4 D. Accordingly, because there was a sufficient nexus between the forum state, the subject matter of the litigation, and Manitex, the trial court erred by determining it did not have personal jurisdiction over Manitex. Reversed and remanded.

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