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Brannock Humphries & Berman Wins Personal Jurisdiction Appeal in Georgia

After a rechargeable battery made by South Korean company LG Chem exploded in a Georgia resident’s pocket, causing catastrophic injuries, the company challenged the jurisdiction of the Georgia courts to adjudicate the resident’s personal-injury lawsuit. 

The lawsuit stems from an accident involving one of LG Chem’s small lithium-ion batteries, which are used to power consumer electronics like handheld vaping devices.  LG Chem ships millions of these batteries to the United States, including directly to Georgia, where the company makes seven-figure profits selling them.  The LG Chem battery here was bought at a store in Kennesaw, Georgia, and was sold with no warnings or instructions.  It then caused harm in Acworth, Georgia, to a Georgia resident.

The Georgia resident filed suit in Cobb County, Georgia, alleging negligence and strict liability against LG Chem.  The company then sought to avoid the lawsuit by claiming that it lacked sufficient contacts with Georgia to be sued in that forum.  Yet the company did not explain where the Georgia resident could bring his suit, aside from in South Korea.  The trial court denied LG Chem’s motion to dismiss, and LG Chem appealed.

Appearing pro hac vice, Brannock Humphries & Berman briefed the personal jurisdiction issue for the Georgia resident.  In the first exploding-battery case to receive a written opinion in Georgia, the Georgia Court of Appeals affirmed.  The appeals court held that LG Chem’s “deliberate, significant activity directed at Georgia” was enough to subject it to jurisdiction in Georgia’s courts.  The case can now proceed to trial.