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Jan 20, 2022

Favorable Discovery Ruling Obtained for Toxic Tort Client in St. Louis County

On December 13, 2021, Baker Sterchi obtained a favorable ruling for a toxic tort client in an asbestos case pending in the Circuit Court of St. Louis County.

Plaintiff sued our client, a multinational chemical company, alleging decedent was exposed to asbestos attributable to our client while working in St. Louis County. Baker Sterchi filed a motion to dismiss on behalf of the client, arguing the court lacked specific personal jurisdiction. In support of its motion, our client produced a jurisdictional affidavit from its corporate representative. Prior to the hearing on the motion, plaintiff’s counsel served jurisdictional interrogatories and requests for production on our client.

At the scheduled motion hearing, Baker Sterchi argued the plaintiff’s jurisdictional discovery requests should be quashed because they were served after the case management deadline to conduct written discovery and, more importantly, plaintiff was not entitled to conduct jurisdictional discovery under Missouri law. On the latter point, Baker Sterchi argued that to be entitled to jurisdictional discovery under Missouri law, a plaintiff must: 1) plead sufficiently detailed allegations in the petition, which, if true, establish personal jurisdiction over the defendant; and 2) respond to a defendant’s jurisdictional affidavit with a counter-affidavit or other evidence refuting the defendant’s affidavit.

Baker Sterchi illustrated that plaintiff failed to satisfy either requirement, as her jurisdictional petition allegations were vague and conclusory, and she had not presented evidence rebutting the information contained in the client’s jurisdictional affidavit. The court agreed and entered an order not only quashing the plaintiff’s untimely jurisdictional discovery requests, but further ruling plaintiff was not entitled to conduct jurisdictional discovery against our client under Missouri law. Plaintiff subsequently dismissed our client from the lawsuit.