Niederer and Cheng Obtain Dismissal in Dispute over Canadian Jurisdiction
Eric Niederer (Partner-Stamford) and Linda Cheng (Associate-Stamford) obtained a dismissal for an insurer in the Superior Court of Fayette County, Georgia. The case involved a defendant who rear-ended the plaintiff, an employee of a company headquartered in Toronto, Canada. The plaintiff filed a complaint against the tortfeasor for negligence and a claim against the plaintiff’s Canadian insurer under the company’s automobile policy for underinsured or uninsured motorist benefits. Eric and Linda filed a motion to dismiss on behalf of the Canadian insurer, arguing that the plaintiff was seeking benefits from a Canadian corporation under a Canadian contract. The entire automobile policy was contracted in Canada with Canadian parties, with the provision that lawsuits be decided under Ontario law, and by virtue of being the employee of a Canadian company, the plaintiff consented to Canadian jurisdiction; thus the Georgia court did not have jurisdiction to adjudicate the matter. Furthermore, the insurer had insufficient contacts with the state of Georgia to hail the Canadian carrier into the state, and it would be a violation of their due process rights to do so.
Eric and Linda also argued that even if the court chose to decline the jurisdictional argument, it would have had to apply Canadian law under choice of law doctrine. The court found the arguments compelling and granted the motion to dismiss.