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In a recent federal appellate case, a man was badly injured while he was operating a machine at work in Lakeville, Massachusetts. Evidently, the man mistakenly hit the foot pedal on the machine, causing the machine to activate, crushing his left hand. The machine was manufactured by Schechtl Maschinenbau, a German company, and was sold to the man’s employer by MetalForming, Inc., an American company. The man sued Schechtl and MetalForming in Massachusetts. Schechtl argued that it could not be sued in Massachusetts because there was no personal jurisdiction.
The Concept of Personal Jurisdiction
Personal jurisdiction refers to a court’s ability to exercise power over the parties in a case. In order for personal jurisdiction to be established, a defendant must have certain “minimum contacts” with the state. To show sufficient contacts with the state under the applicable law, a plaintiff must show that: 1) the claims directly arise out of or relate to the defendant’s activities in the state; 2) the defendant’s contacts with the state constitute a purposeful availment of the privilege of doing business in the state; and 3) that jurisdiction is reasonable.
Personal Jurisdiction in the Case
In this case, the court decided that there were sufficient contacts to find personal jurisdiction. The court found that the claim was related to Schechtl’s contacts with the state, and that jurisdiction was reasonable. The main issue was whether Schechtl purposely availed itself of the privilege of doing business within the state. In finding that it purposely availed itself, the court considered whether the exercise of jurisdiction was foreseeable to the defendant.