On January 22, the Supreme Court denied review of a case in which a Taiwanese battery charger manufacturer argued that the courts of Oregon should not have jurisdiction to force the company to defend itself in a products liability lawsuit.  China Terminal and Electric Corp. (CTE) manufacturers batter chargers that are incorporated into motorized wheelchairs manufactured by an Ohio company, Invacare. Oregon resident Karlene J. Willemsen, who suffered from advanced multiple sclerosis, purchased one of the Invacare FDA-approved wheelchairs.  On February 1, 2008, Willemsen, physically incapable of escaping the in-home hospital bed she was in, died as a result of a fire that engulfed her bedroom and immolated her.  Her estate subsequently brought suit against, among others, Invacare and CTE.  CTE resisted jurisdiction in the Oregon courts, even though more than 1100 CTE-equipped chairs were sold in Oregon, claiming that due process prohibited Oregon from making it answer the complaint and arguing that CTE never “purposely availed” itself of the Oregon market.  Instead, it said that Invacare alone targeted consumers in Oregon. 

CCL President Robert S. Peck, as counsel for the Willemsen family, argued against CTE’s petition, showing that CTE would be responsible for any liability resulting from a faulty battery charger because it had agreed to hold Invacare harmless and participate in any investigation of harm caused.  For that reason, CTE’s due-process claim did not affect the liability CTE might be assessed, only whether its participation in the case was behind-the-scenes or as a named party.  Moreover, Peck’s brief demonstrated that the Oregon courts had carefully and correctly applied existing U.S. Supreme Court precedent in asserting jurisdiction over CTE.  Given the case’s unique facts, the brief contended that it was a poor vehicle for any reexamination of precedent by the Supreme Court.  With the Court’s denial of certiorari, the case can now proceed to trial.  Oregon co-counsel before the U.S. Supreme Court included Jeffrey Bowersox and Kathryn Clarke.