The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has affirmed the dismissal of a slip-and-fall case filed by an oil and gas company employee injured on a drilling platform.
The case—filed by Abduljabbar Abdul Malik’s against his employer, Patterson UTI Drilling Co., and drilling site owner Cabot Oil & Gas Corp.—had been dismissed by U.S. District Judge Madeline C. Arleo of the District of New Jersey for lack of personal jurisdiction.
Malik claimed he was seriously injured by slipping on accumulated snow on a drilling platform in Pennsylvania. He claimed his injuries were the result of Cabot and Patterson’s negligence.
According to Third Circuit Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo’s opinion, Cabot, like Patterson, is incorporated in Delaware and headquartered in Texas. However, Malik claimed New Jersey was the appropriate venue because of Cabot and Patterson’s operations there.
“The [U.S.] Supreme Court has noted that such jurisdiction typically arises only when a corporation’s ‘affiliations with the state are so continuous and systematic as to render [it] essentially at home in the forum state,’” Restrepo said.
He added, “Malik has not alleged facts that would suggest this is the ‘exceptional case’ where, although Cabot is neither incorporated in nor has its principal place of business in New Jersey, that Cabot has operations in New Jersey ‘so substantial and of such a nature as to render [it] at home in that state’ for purposes of general jurisdiction.”
Regarding specific personal jurisdiction, Restrepo said that a plaintiff must show a defendant “purposefully directed [its] activities at residents of the forum, and the litigation results from alleged injuries that arise out of or relate to those activities,” according to the 1985 Supreme Court decision in Burger King v. Rudzewicz.
“Here, Malik is suing in New Jersey his employer and the site owner for alleged negligence and gross negligence resulting in Malik’s slip and fall on a drilling platform in Montrose, Pennsylvania. Malik’s cause of action does not ‘arise out of or relate to’ appellees’ New Jersey-related activities,” Restrepo said.
Malik also argued that he should have been allowed to conduct jurisdictional discovery, but to no avail.
“In this case, with regard to his request for jurisdictional discovery, Malik did not present factual allegations that suggested with reasonable particularity the possible existence of the requisite contacts between appellees and the forum state to warrant jurisdictional discovery,” Restrepo said.
Joseph J. Bell of Bell Shivas & Fasolo in Rockaway represents Malik. Michael P. Leahey of Jackson Kelly in Pittsburgh represents Cabot. Jeffrey H. Quinn of Dickey McCamey and Chilcote in Philadelphia represents Patterson. None responded to requests for comment.
Contact P.J. D’Annunzio at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @PJDannunzioTLI.