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British Company that Owned American Company Not Subject to Court Jurisdiction
Description Trial court dismissed a suit brought against a British tobacco company that owns an American tobacco company. The government sued the British company to recover medical costs associated with tobacco products. Since the British company did no business in the U.S., it was not subject to jurisdiction.
Topic Court Procedure
Key Words Personal Jurisdiction; Long-Arm Statute; Minimum Contacts
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts The U.S. sued tobacco companies to recover health care expenses. One defendant, British American Tobacco (BAT), moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction over BAT in federal court under the Long-Arm Statute of the District of Columbia. BAT owns B&W, an American cigarette maker, which is also a defendant in the suit. BAT never made or sold tobacco products in the U.S.
Decision Case dismissed. The plaintiff failed to show a linkage between BAT and B&W that would indicate that BAT was involved in decisions made in the U.S. by B&W, so there was no personal jurisdiction under the long-arm statute. BAT owned B&W, but there is no evidence that it controlled the business decisions of the company that were in question in the lawsuit. Further, BAT had no minimum contacts with the District of Columbia, as would be required by due process, for BAT to be subject to personal jurisdiction of the court. For a court to assert jurisdiction here would "offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice."
Citation U.S. v. Philip Morris Inc., 2000 WL 1477141 (D.D.C., 2000)

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