Brannock Humphries & Berman Obtains Precedent-Setting Decision from Mississippi Supreme Court
In its latest state supreme court victory, Brannock Humphries & Berman convinced Mississippi’s highest court to unanimously overturn a lower court’s dismissal of a product-defect lawsuit seeking damages for an exploding lithium-ion battery – and, in the process, to clarify Mississippi law on personal jurisdiction.
The case arises from serious injuries suffered by a Mississippi resident when, while walking her dog, a lithium-ion battery exploded in a vaping device that was in her pocket. The battery, which was manufactured by South Korean company LG Chem, was sold at a local Mississippi vape store. It did not come with any warnings or instructions.
Despite the injury to a Mississippi resident in Mississippi from a product bought in Mississippi, LG Chem challenged the Mississippi court’s jurisdiction to hear the case. The trial court agreed, finding that LG Chem lacked sufficient minimum contacts with Mississippi to satisfy the constitutional standard for exercising personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant. Brannock Humphries & Berman came on board to handle the appeal in the Mississippi Supreme Court, bringing extensive knowledge from similar appeals the firm has handled in Georgia and Florida.
Following written briefing and an oral argument in Jackson, the Mississippi Supreme Court agreed with Brannock Humphries & Berman that the trial court had too narrowly restricted its jurisdiction. After all, the Supreme Court held, LG Chem’s battery did not end up in Mississippi by accident. Rather, according to the Supreme Court, LG Chem had purposely availed itself of the Mississippi market – a standard the Court’s opinion expounded upon – making jurisdiction in Mississippi entirely foreseeable and fundamentally fair. The case now returns to the trial court for the lawsuit against LG Chem to continue.