Missouri Supreme Court issues decision regarding jurisdiction of Missouri state courts over out-of-state corporations
November 20, 2018
On November 20, the Missouri Supreme Court issued its decision in State ex rel. PPG Industries, Inc. v. McShane, SC97006, finding that a publicly-available website is insufficient to give Missouri courts jurisdiction over an out-of-state corporation. The plaintiff was a general contractor whose contract required application of a product made by PPG, a Pennsylvania-based manufacturer. The plaintiff consulted PPG’s website for a list of approved applicators of the product, and picked a sub-contractor from that list. The plaintiff and the sub-contractor entered into a contract, which PPG was not part of, for the product application. After the sub-contractor allegedly performed negligently, the plaintiff sued PPG for negligent misrepresentation for stating on its website that the sub-contractor was approved.
PPG argued that its website did not provide a valid basis for a court to assert personal jurisdiction over it in Missouri, noting that it has no presence in Missouri other than the website, which is not specifically aimed at Missouri consumers. The Supreme Court agreed. The sum of PPG’s “action” in Missouri was to publish information that was equally available to Missourians as to others. This is not enough to support personal jurisdiction of an out-of-state defendant under Missouri’s long-arm statute.