Where a case is filed can sometimes be as important as the facts of the case itself. The Washington Court of Appeals, recently revisited specific jurisdiction in the context of consent in Bradley v. Globus Medical, Inc.

In February 2021, Rachel Bradley filed suit in Spokane County Superior Court against Globus Medical, Inc. alleging that hardware and screws designed by Globus were defective and caused her injury after being implanted in her body during surgery. Globus filed a motion to dismiss based on lack of personal jurisdiction, arguing that Ms. Bradley failed to assert any facts supporting general or specific jurisdiction., Globus maintained that Ms. Bradley alleged no facts supporting any purposeful minimum contacts with Washington or that her injuries related to those contacts. Ms. Bradley argued in response that because Globus was authorized to do business in Washington and had a registered agent, specific jurisdiction was satisfied.  The lower court granted Globus’ motion and Ms. Bradley appealed.

The Washington Court of Appeals, reviewing the case de novo, upheld the trial court’s ruling, noting that under Washington law, a defendant does not consent to jurisdiction simply by registering to do business in Washington. Rather, for the court to have personal jurisdiction: (1) purposeful ‘minimum contacts’ [must] exist between the defendant and the forum state; (2) the plaintiff’s injuries [must] ‘arise out of or relate to’ those minimum contacts; and (3) the exercise of jurisdiction [must] be reasonable, that is, that jurisdiction be consistent with notions of ‘fair play and substantial justice.’” At a minimum, Plaintiff is required to provide a prima facie demonstration of the first two requirements and Ms. Bradley did neither here. Her complaint did not allege that Globus purposefully availed itself of the privilege of conducting activities in Washington and did not allege that her claim arose out of or related to Globus’ contacts with Washington.

Ms. Bradley did not allege her surgery took place in Washington or that the hardware or screws allegedly designed by Globus “came to be used in her surgery through some deliberate reaching out into Washington.” The fact Globus is registered to do business in Washington “ does not fill that gap” nor does it mean a corporation “has activities in Washington or any presence beyond its registered agent.”

This decision is significant in affirming that personal jurisdiction in Washington does not automatically exist simply by registering to do business in the state.

The case is Bradley v. Globus Med., Inc., No. 38490-0-III, 2022 WL 2373441, at *1 (Wash. Ct. App. June 30, 2022).