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Georgia courts may exercise general personal jurisdiction over any out-of-state corporation that is authorized to do or transact business in Georgia at the time a claim arises.
Appellee Tyrance McCall sued appellant Cooper Tire & Rubber Company and two other defendants for injuries he allegedly sustained in a motor vehicle collision. Appellee complaint alleged that he was a passenger in a vehicle that was equipped with a rear tire designed, manufactured sold by appellant. As the vehicle was traveling on a roadway, the tire tread suddenly failed and separated from the remainder of the tire. The driver lost control of the vehicle, which left the roadway and rolled over until it came to rest in a nearby wooded area. McCall sustained severe injuries in the crash. Following the collision, appellee sued appellant for negligence, strict product liability, and punitive damages. He also asserted claims against the driver and the Georgia car dealership that sold the vehicle to the driver. In its answer, appellant raised numerous defenses, including lack of personal jurisdiction. It also filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that as a nonresident corporate defendant with only minimal contacts in Georgia, it is not subject to personal jurisdiction in this state. Appellee responded that appellant was a resident of Georgia, thus subject to personal jurisdiction here because it was authorized to transact business in the state. In its reply, appellant did not dispute that it has been authorized to transact business in Georgia at all times relevant to this suit. However, it argued that such circumstances do not make it a Georgia resident for jurisdictional purposes. The trial court agreed and granted appellant’s motion to dismiss. On appeal, the appellate court reversed the trial court, concluding that under Klein, appellant was a resident corporation subject to personal jurisdiction in this state, and the trial court erred in granting the motion to dismiss.
Did the appellate court err in holding that appellant was subject to personal jurisdiction in the State of Georgia?
The court affirmed the judgment. The court held that in a product liability action, the Long Arm Statute, O.C.G.A. § 9-10-90 et seq., did not apply to appellant, an out-of-state corporation that was authorized to do business in Georgia, and it was not subject to specific personal jurisdiction in Georgia under O.C.G.A. §§ 9-10-90 and 9-10-91. However, because appellant was registered and authorized to do business in Georgia, it was subject to the general jurisdiction of Georgia's courts under Klein's general-jurisdiction holding.