Brody Wilkinson Scores Groundbreaking Appellate Court Victory

Brody Wilkinson PC recently represented a manufacturer of natural health products before the Connecticut Appellate Court in a successful appeal which, in part, made new procedural law in Connecticut.  The appeal arose from the trial court’s dismissal, on jurisdictional grounds, of our client’s breach of contract claim against an out-of-state defendant.   In deciding Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss, the trial court appeared to have applied a preponderance of the evidence standard, instead of requiring only a prima facie showing of facts establishing jurisdiction.

On appeal, we argued that no Connecticut court of record had articulated the standard of proof by which a plaintiff must establish personal jurisdiction to defeat a motion to dismiss filed by an out-of-state defendant. In the absence of such a standard, we argued that the court should apply the prima facie standard that is employed by the federal courts and, on occasion, the Superior Court.  To require otherwise would essentially force a plaintiff to conduct a full trial upon a defendant’s challenge of jurisdiction in the absence of full discovery or effective cross-examination.  The Appellate Court agreed on both counts, vacated the dismissal and remanded the case to the Superior Court for further proceedings.

This decision made new law by establishing the standard of proof by which a plaintiff must establish personal jurisdiction to defeat a motion to dismiss filed by an out-of-state defendant.  Significantly, for entities doing business in Connecticut, this decision also resulted in the enforcement of the client’s (Connecticut) forum selection clause.

Thomas J. Walsh, Jr., Stephen J. Curley and Daniel B. Fitzgerald worked on this matter in conjunction with the client’s general counsel.  Stephen J. Curley argued the appeal before the Appellate Court and was on the brief with Daniel B. Fitzgerald.

The case is Designs for Health, Inc. v. Mark Miller, 187 Conn. App. 1 (January 9, 2019).

The opinion is available here: https://www.jud.ct.gov/lawjournal/Docs/Appellate/2019/2/ap187_8028.pdf

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