District Court, Salt Lake Department The Honorable Randall N.
Skanchy No. 150908525
Alexander Dushku and Justin W. Starr, Attorneys for Appellant
Gilbert L. Purcell, James P. Nevin, Daniel J. Morse, Kimberly
J. Chu, and Gary Brayton, Attorneys for Appellee
Kate Appleby authored this Opinion, in which Judges Michele
M. Christiansen Forster and David N. Mortensen concurred.
This lawsuit stems from Raymond Felix's alleged contact
with asbestos and resulting death from mesothelioma in 2014.
Michele Felix, acting as the personal representative on
behalf of Felix's legal heirs (Estate), filed a lawsuit
in 2015 against multiple defendants who allegedly exposed
Felix to asbestos. The Estate added Novelis Corporation to
the lawsuit in 2017 and Novelis moved to dismiss for lack of
personal jurisdiction. The district court denied the motion,
concluding that Novelis had sufficient minimum contacts with
Utah to support specific personal jurisdiction. We reverse.
Felix died in 2014 from mesothelioma. In 2015 the Estate sued
multiple defendants who allegedly exposed him to asbestos.
The Estate filed an amended complaint in 2017, adding Novelis
as a defendant.
Novelis's predecessor in interest, Metal Goods, allegedly
exposed Felix to asbestos in the 1950s through its artificial
snow product called "Snow Drift." Metal Goods
manufactured Snow Drift until 1954. During its operation,
Metal Goods manufactured and packaged Snow Drift in Missouri
and sold it to two national companies: Woolworth and Kresge
(later renamed Kmart).
Felix's sibling (Sibling) stated in a declaration that
the Felix family used "multiple boxes of 'Snow
Drift'" to decorate their Christmas trees
"between the years of 1950 and 1955." Sibling
"believe[d]" they purchased Snow Drift from a
Woolworth department store in Utah. The boxes were labeled
"Snow Drift" and contained "Christmas season
themed illustrations depicting snow, and text touting the
product's properties and uses, including that it was
asbestos." Sibling recalled seeing "the name of the
manufacturer, 'Metal Goods Corporation, St.
Louis'" on the side of the box.
Novelis moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal
jurisdiction. Novelis asserted it does not own real property
or business offices in Utah, does not have a workforce or
manufacturing operations here, or advertise its products
here. Novelis asserted it possessed no information "that
Metal Goods (or Alcan) sold Snow Drift in Utah, or had
offices, employees, inventory, real estate, or facilities in
Utah." Novelis similarly asserted that it had no
information that Metal Goods sold or advertised any products
in Utah. It argued that neither "Novelis, nor its
predecessors, have any contacts with the State of Utah,"
and therefore the Estate's claims against it should be
dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction.
The district court denied the motion. It ruled that the
Estate failed to establish general jurisdiction but concluded
that the Estate submitted sufficient evidence to support
specific jurisdiction. The court found that the evidence
"support[ed] the conclusion that the Snow Drift product
was sold for several years at Woolworth stores in Utah."
Further, "Snow Drift was sold under the Metal Goods
name, to Woolworth stores in Utah, and Utah consumers could
reasonably expect Metal Goods and its [successor] in interest
[Novelis] to stand behind its product and be answerable for
Novelis filed an interlocutory appeal challenging the