SUGARMAN principals, Ben Zimmermann and Stacey Pietrowicz, brought suit on behalf of a worker who suffered severe personal injuries, including a crush injury and partial amputation of his hand, while using a defective metal folding machine at his employer’s business on Cape Cod. The metal folding machine was manufactured in Germany and distributed through an exclusive agreement with a Georgia-based corporation, which shipped the machines to Massachusetts and other states. SUGARMAN brought suit against both companies in Barnstable County Superior Court alleging product liability and breach of warranty claims. The case was then removed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts in Boston.
In April, 2018, a U.S. District Court judge dismissed the claims against the German manufacturer, holding that the manufacturer had not established minimum contacts with Massachusetts sufficient to allow personal jurisdiction over the company. SUGARMAN and the defendant-distributor successfully appealed the decision to the First Circuit, arguing that the individual fulfillment of each order, the language in the manufacturer manual inviting direct contact from consumers and the significant stream of sales into Massachusetts over a fifteen-year period were enough to establish personal jurisdiction under existing Supreme Court precedent. The First Circuit’s opinion, written by Circuit Judge Sandra Lynch, concluded that “ the exercise of personal jurisdiction over [the manufacturer] comports with due process.” The case was remanded back to the U.S. District Court in Boston, and on March 6, 2019, the defendant manufacturer’s motion for rehearing was denied by the First Circuit.