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Washington courts apply the service of process statute, rather than the long-arm statute, to determine whether general jurisdiction applies. Wash. Rev. Code § 4.28.080(10). The statute confers general jurisdiction over a corporation that is "doing business" in the state. A company is doing business in Washington when it participates continuously and substantially in the state's markets. The Washington Supreme Court has no rigid or formulaic test for determining when a company is "doing business" in Washington, and instead conducts a fact-intensive, case-by-case analysis.
Plaintiff cigarette smoker, who was a resident of Washington, alleged that the defendant tobacco manufacturer, participated in a global conspiracy to suppress information regarding the health-related effects of cigarettes. The defendant moved to dismiss plaintiff’s complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction and on grounds of forum non conveniens. The district court denied the motion and defendant appealed.
Should the plaintiffs’ complaint be dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction?
On appeal, the court held that the district court properly denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction because the defendant manufacturer's activities in Washington--including being licensed to do business, maintaining an office and staff of permanent employees, advertising in local media, targeting Washington consumers, and deriving $ 145-240 million in annual revenues from sales in Washington--constituted doing business within the meaning of the Washington service of process statute, Wash. Rev. Code § 4.28.080(10). Moreover, the court held that the defendant manufacturer's continuous and substantial contacts were sufficient to support the exercise of personal jurisdiction. The defendant manufacturer failed to demonstrate that the exercise of jurisdiction would be unreasonable. The court further held that the district court did not err in determining that the relevant public and private factors involved favored keeping the case in Washington.