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April 16, 2006

Mississippi Supreme Court Dismisses Suits Against 3M Company for Forum Non Conveniens

In 3M Co. v. Johnson, West decided April 13, 2006, the Mississippi Supreme Court decided a second case involving claims against 3M.  3M is one of a number of defendants in an action that initially involved a single complaint by 185 defendants against 70 defendants.  The suit sought damages for injuries caused by exposure to asbestos.  3M did not make products containing asbestos but was sued because the plaintiffs allege that the company's respirators failed to protect them against asbestos exposure.  Only 36 of those plaintiffs in the initial mass-tort action had claims against 3M, and only 17 of those plaintiffs had a clear connection with Mississippi.  In the first case, Johnson I, 891 So.2d 151 (Miss. 2005), a trial group of ten was chosen.  Three of the plaintiffs settled before or during trial and one was dismissed.  Of the remaining six, only four had a claim against 3M and two against the other defendants.  The jury in the case awarded damages of $25 million to each plaintiff.  The supreme court reversed and entered judgment for 3M.  The court also ruled that the plaintiffs in this trial group should be severed.  In the current case, 3M argued that the 19 out-of-state plaintiffs should be dismissed based on the doctrine of forum non conveniens.  The supreme court overturned the Hughes County Circuit Court and held that the claims should be dismissed.  The supreme court held that 18 of the plaintiffs had no connection to Mississippi and remanded for a finding as to whether the remaining plaintiff should be dismissed.  The 18 plaintiffs were not from Mississippi and their claims did not arise in Mississippi.  The court emphasized that “[t]he courts of Mississippi will not become the default forum for plaintiffs seeking to consolidate mass-tort actions,” and that “[t]o allow otherwise would waste finite judicial resources on claims that have nothing to do with the state.”


April 16, 2006 | Permalink


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