The Federal Circuit vacated the district court’s determination that it lacked personal jurisdiction over a Finnish defendant, Suunto. Suunto received orders for products from the U.S.; it packaged the ordered products in Finland; and it placed the products on its shipping dock in Finland for a third party shipper to pick up. Suunto’s U.S.-based sister company, AWSO, paid for the shipping and title to the products passed from Suunto to AWSO at Suunto’s shipping dock in Finland. Suunto owns a website that allows visitors to locate dealers in Delaware that sell Suunto products.
Determining personal jurisdictional involves two steps: (i) determining whether personal jurisdiction is proper under the long arm statute of the state in which the district court sits; and (ii) determining whether exercising personal jurisdiction in the state comports with the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
First, the Federal Circuit reinforced the district court’s analysis of Delaware Long Arm Statute and affirmed the district court’s determination that under a dual jurisdiction theory, which requires the plaintiff to show that “there is an intent or purpose on the part of the defendant to serve the Delaware market,” and that “intent or purpose . . . results in the introduction of the product to [Delaware] and plaintiff’s cause of action arises from injuries caused by that product,” exercising personal jurisdiction over Suunto was proper.
Second, the Federal Circuit, however, rejected the district court’s determination that exercising personal jurisdiction over Suunto did not comport with due process. The Federal Circuit noted that under the stream-of-commerce theory, there exists a two-way split in Supreme Court opinions on the standard for determining sufficient minimum contacts. Without deciding which of the two standards should apply, the Federal Circuit found that even under the stricter standard, which requires conduct of the defendant that is “purposefully directed toward the forum state”(and “not mere awareness of a non-resident defendant that its products would foreseeably reach the forum state”), Suunto had sufficient contacts with Delaware to sustain specific jurisdiction.
The district court, however, failed to address the issue of whether exercising personal jurisdiction is "reasonable and fair" and therefore the Federal Circuit remanded to the District Court for that determination.
Polar Electro Oy v. Amer Sports Winter & Outdoor, et al., Case No. 2015-1930 (July 20, 2016); Opinion by: Lourie, joined by Newman and Chen; Appealed From: United States District Court for the District of Delaware, Sleet, J. Read the full opinion here.