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Before a nonresident defendant may be subjected to judgment, due process requires that the defendant have sufficient minimum contacts with the forum state such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice. The due process inquiry involves a two-pronged test which examines whether there are the sufficient minimum contacts and, if so, the fairness of exercising personal jurisdiction over the defendant.
Sheldon Lewis, a minor child, was injured on a Twin Ring Demolition Derby amusement ride ("the ride") at the State Fair of Louisiana. Moser Rides, S.r.l. ("Moser"), an Italian company, manufactured the ride. Lakhesia Lewis and Sheldon Hallmon, individually and on behalf of Sheldon, filed suit for damages against Pine Belt Multipurpose Community Action Acquisition Agency, Inc. ("Pine Belt"), the group that took Sheldon to the fair; Lowery Carnival Company, Inc. ("Lowery"), an Alabama corporation and the owner and operator of the ride; Bryan Pelligrin, Lowery's employee; and the State Fair of Louisiana. Lowery filed a third-party demand against Moser. Subsequently, the plaintiffs filed a fourth amended petition naming Moser as a defendant. Moser filed a declinatory exception of lack of personal jurisdiction, which the trial court denied. Moser sought supervisory review.
Under the circumstances, could the courts of Louisiana exercise personal jurisdiction over the foreign manufacturer?
The court held that personal jurisdiction under La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 13:3201(A)(8), (B) was lacking in the case of Moser because the company did not have sufficient minimum contacts to satisfy the requirements of either general or specific jurisdiction, having sold only one ride to a Louisiana customer in a transaction unrelated to the incident at issue, which transaction was not shown to have been a result of the company's marketing activities or efforts to target Louisiana customers. The presence in Louisiana of the ride involved in the accident, which had been sold to a California customer, was the result of the random, fortuitous, and unilateral activities of third parties and did not constitute purposeful availment of the privilege of conducting activities in Louisiana. Accordingly, the court reversed the trial court’s judgment denying Moser's declinatory exception.