Law School Case Brief
World-Wide Volkswagen Corporation v. Woodson - 1978 OK 131, 585 P.2d 351
The test for applying long-arm jurisdiction in Oklahoma is to determine whether the exercise of jurisdiction is authorized by statute and, if so, whether such exercise of jurisdiction is consistent with the constitutional requirements of due process.
A car driven by respondent Kay Eloise Robinson was struck in the rear by another automobile. Mrs. Robinson and her two minor children, respondents E.M.R. and G.S.R., were seriously injured in the collision when the gasoline tank of their car ruptured, causing a fire in the passenger compartment of their car. As a result of the collision, manufacturers products liability actions were brought in Oklahoma state court on behalf of Mrs. Robinson, her husband, respondent Harry Robinson, and E.M.R. and G.S.R. The complaint named as defendants: (1) the manufacturer of the automobile, Volkswagenwerk Aktiengesellschaft; (2) Volkswagen of America, Inc., the U.S. importer of the automobile; (3) World-Wide Volkswagen Corporation ("World-Wide"), the distributor of the automobile; and (4) Seaway Volkswagen, Inc. ("Seaway"), the retail dealer who sold the car to the Robinsons. World-Wide and Seaway filed a petition in the Supreme Court of Oklahoma asking the court to assume original jurisdiction and issue a writ of prohibition, prohibiting the trial court judge, respondent Charles S. Woodson, from exercising personal jurisdiction over them.
Did the trial judge have the power to exercise personal jurisdiction over World-Wide and Seaway?
The supreme court assumed original jurisdiction, found that the trial judge had the power to exercise personal jurisdiction over World-Wide and Seaway and refused to issue a writ of prohibition. The court noted that while it was true that the alleged acts or omissions of World-Wide and Seaway allegedly caused tortious injury in Oklahoma, none of their alleged acts or omissions took place in the state. However, the product sold and distributed by World-Wide and Seaway was, by its design and purpose, so mobile that they could have foreseen its possible use in Oklahoma. Further, the evidence presented in the trial court demonstrated that goods sold and distributed by World-Wide and Seaway were used in Oklahoma and that World-Wide and Seaway derived substantial income from automobiles that from time to time were used in the Oklahoma. As such, the trial judge had the power to exercise personal jurisdiction over World-Wide and Seaway.
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