444 F.2d 745 (4th Cir. 1971), 14788, Ratliff v. Cooper Laboratories, Inc.

Docket Nº:14788.
Citation:444 F.2d 745
Party Name:Annie Nell RATLIFF and Henry Ratliff, Appellees, v. COOPER LABORATORIES, INC., Appellant. Alice W. NICHOLS, Appellee, v. STERLING DRUG COMPANY, Inc., a corporation, Appellant.
Case Date:June 29, 1971
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

Page 745

444 F.2d 745 (4th Cir. 1971)

Annie Nell RATLIFF and Henry Ratliff, Appellees,



Alice W. NICHOLS, Appellee,


STERLING DRUG COMPANY, Inc., a corporation, Appellant.

No. 14788.

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit.

June 29, 1971

Argued Feb. 4, 1971.

Julius W. McKay and E. W. Laney, III, Columbia, S.C. (McKay, McKay, Black, Sherrill, Walker & Wilkins, and Turner, Padget, Graham & Laney, Columbia, S.C., on the brief), for appellants.

Henry Hammer, Columbia, S.C., for appellees.

Before WINTER and CRAVEN, Circuit Judges, and MILLER, District Judge.

CRAVEN, Circuit Judge:

This is a consolidated interlocutory appeal, 28 U.S.C. 1292(b), by two drug manufacturing companies, Cooper Laboratories, Inc. and Sterling Drug Company, Inc., who challenge the jurisdiction of the District Court of South Carolina to adjudicate certain claims brought by nonresidents and arising outside the state. The district court denied the motions of the defendant drug companies

Page 746

to set aside the service of summons and to dismiss the complaint. We think the facts presented as a basis for in personam jurisdiction are insufficient 'contacts, ties, or relations' 1 to satisfy the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and therefore reverse.

These are diversity jurisdiction cases with the requisite jurisdictional amount. Both claims stem from alleged injuries suffered from the consumption of drugs manufactured by defendants. The drugs were neither manufactured nor consumed in South Carolina.

Plaintiffs Annie and Henry Ratliff are citizens and residents of Florida. She purchased the allegedly harmful drugs in Florida and apparently consumed them there, but, in any event, did not use them in South Carolina. Defendant Cooper Laboratories, the maker of the drug used by Mrs. Ratliff, is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Mystic, Connecticut. Its activities in South Carolina are limited to solicitation by mail to dealers and wholesalers, and the mailing of promotional literature to approximately 650 doctors on its mailing lists.

Plaintiff Alice W. Nichols is a citizen and resident of Indiana, and it has been stipulated that 'the drugs referred to in the Complaint were purchased, consumed and ingested in Indiana and the injuries and damages complained of occurred in Indiana' and that 'the treatment and hospitalization referred to in the Complaint occurred in Indiana.' Defendant Sterling Drug, a Delaware corporation, maintains its principal place of business in New York where it manufactured the drug taken by plaintiff Nichols. Sterling Drug's activities in South Carolina, however, are more extensive than those of Cooper Laboratories. It has filed application and been given authority to do business in South Carolina and has appointed an agent for service of process. South Carolina Code of Laws 12-23.1 through 12-23.16. Additionally, Sterling maintains five 'detail men' who live in South Carolina and promote Sterling's products through personal contacts with doctors and drugstores throughout the state. Although occasionally taking orders themselves, it was stipulated that 'their primary responsibility is the promotion of drugs, not the actual sale of them.'

Plaintiffs' only interest in South Carolina is in its relatively long statute of limitations (six years), and plaintiffs' only contact with South Carolina is the bringing of these lawsuits for the sole purpose of availing themselves of that statute-- the limitation...

To continue reading