STATE OF TENNESSEE v. NV SUMATRA TOBACCO TRADING COMPANY - Articles

All Content


Posted by: Tanja Trezise on May 3, 2013

Head Comment: CORRECTION: On page 36, first full paragraph, last parenthetical (misleading parenthetical corrected); On page 38, typographical error - Justice Ginsberg corrected to Justice Ginsberg.

Court: TN Supreme Court

Attorneys 1:

Steven C. Douse, Nashville, Tennessee; and Christopher L. Rissetto, Washington D.C., for the appellant, NV Sumatra Tobacco Trading Company.

Attorneys 2:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; John H. Sinclair, Jr., Deputy Attorney General; and Rebekah A. Baker, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge(s): KOCH

This appeal concerns whether Tennessee courts may exercise personal jurisdiction over an Indonesian cigarette manufacturer whose cigarettes were sold in Tennessee through the marketing efforts of a Florida entrepreneur who purchased the cigarettes from an independent foreign distributor. From 2000 to 2002, over eleven million of the Indonesian manufacturer’s cigarettes were sold in Tennessee. After the manufacturer withdrew its cigarettes from the United States market, the State of Tennessee filed suit against the manufacturer in the Chancery Court for Davidson County, alleging that the manufacturer had failed to pay into the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Escrow Fund as required by Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 47-31-101 to -103 (2001 & Supp. 2012). The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment, and the trial court dismissed the suit for lack of personal jurisdiction over the Indonesian manufacturer. The Court of Appeals reversed, granted the State’s motion for summary judgment, and remanded the case to the trial court to determine the applicable fines. State ex rel. Cooper v. NV Sumatra Tobacco Trading Co., No. M2010-01955-COA-R3-CV, 2011 WL 2571851 (Tenn. Ct. App. June 28, 2011). We find that, under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, Tennessee courts lack personal jurisdiction over the Indonesian manufacturer. We therefore reverse the decision of the Court of Appeals and dismiss the case for lack of personal jurisdiction pursuant to Tenn. R. Civ. P. 12.02(2).