Hammer v. A.L. Burbank & Co. Ltd.
A plaintiff can file a civil suit against a foreign corporation that lacks a certificate of authority from the Connecticut secretary of state, if the defendant appears to have availed itself of the privilege of conducting business in the State of Connecticut. Sylvia Hammer, as the executrix of the estate of the decedent, Irving Hammer, alleged that the decedent contracted mesothelioma as a result of his exposure to asbestos dust, fibers and particles when working as a Merchant Marine between 1944 and 1979 and as an inspector in the 1950s. Hammer alleged that the defendants were grossly negligent, willful, wanton and malicious, because the defendants possessed medical data that indicated asbestos exposure was hazardous, and that the defendants violated the Connecticut Product Liability Act and the wrongful-death statute. Defendant Tate Andale Inc., as successor to Tate Temco, which manufactured manifolds, duplex strainers and valve scuppers, moved to dismiss and argued that Connecticut's long-arm statute did not confer jurisdiction. Chief Executive Officer William Tate filed an affidavit claiming that Tate Andale Inc. has a principal place of business in Maryland, it has not filed a certificate with Connecticut's secretary of state, it does not directly target Connecticut customers and it does not have a registered agent to accept service of process in Connecticut. The marshal's return indicated that on April 28, 2011, service of process was mailed to the secretary of Tate Andale Inc. in Maryland. Tate Andale Inc. admitted its predecessor shipped orders to Electric Boat in Groton. Captain William Lowell testified that there were Tate Temco manifolds, duplex strainers and valve scuppers with asbestos components on board the decedent's vessel, and it was likely that the decedent, in his capacity as chief engineer, had some contact with Tate Temco equipment. The court found that Connecticut's long-arm statute provided jurisdiction over Tate Andale Inc. and that the marshal's service of process complied with statutes that govern service on foreign corporations. Jurisdiction does not violate constitutional due-process principles, because the defendant apparently availed itself of the privilege of conducting business in Connecticut. The court denied Tate Andale Inc.'s motion to dismiss.