Eastman Chemical Company Motions to Dismiss Lawsuit from Foreign Competitor

May 24th, 2017 by Katherine Coig

Eastman Chemical Company and Commonwealth Laminating & Coating have filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit brought forth by an Asian distributor due to lack of personal jurisdiction. 

Last month, Seoul-based Sae Han Sheet Co. (SHSC) filed a lawsuit against the defendants for allegedly knowing and selling defective window films after one of three key ingredients was removed in an effort to cut costs. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court Southern District of New York.

Marshall Beil, attorney for Eastman Chemical and Commonwealth (collectively known as “Eastman defendants”), requested a pre-motion conference to propose a motion to dismiss the case or have it be transferred to the Western District of Virginia.

The personal jurisdiction analysis in this diversity action has two components, the document reads, general jurisdiction and specific.

“General Jurisdiction: Due process requires that to be subject to general jurisdiction in a particular forum, a foreign company must have in-forum contacts so continuous and systematic as to render it ‘essentially at home in the forum state.’ A company is typically subject to general jurisdiction only in two places- its state of incorporation and the state where it is headquartered,” according to the document.

Beil says the general jurisdiction over the defendants is inconsistent with due process since Eastman Chemical is a Delaware corporation that is headquartered in Tennessee. Before merging into CPFilms in 2016, Commonwealth was a Virginia corporation headquartered in Martinsville, Va. Therefore, Beil says, “neither defendant is thus ‘at home’ in New York.”

He further states that Sae Han has not provided adequate evidence to suggest sufficient contacts between the defendants and New York to justify general jurisdiction, and, while the Eastman defendants do business in New York, neither has “continuous and systematic so as to give rise to general jurisdiction.”

Beil argues that specific jurisdiction does not extend over the defendants since the products were manufactured and sold in Virginia.

“The complaint alleges that a Korean company contracted with a Virginia corporation for the sale of goods destined for Korea.  The manufacture and sale of allegedly defective goods took place in Virginia.  (The plant is also the place where the documents and many of the witnesses are located, and where the alleged events largely occurred.),” Beil states.

He adds that the only allegation that has any relation to New York, is that the products were shipped from there, which, he states, was the plaintiff’s choosing.

On behalf of the Eastman defendants, Beil asks the judge to dismiss the case or transfer the case to the proper venue.

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