Levin Simes Wins Important Appellate Decision in LG Lawsuit

By Levin Simes
October 20, 2022
LG Chem tried to argue they can’t be sued for burn injuries from their battery in Texas courts. A new decision says, “Yes, they can.”

A client represented by Levin Simes who suffered battery burns now has their chance to sue manufacturing giant LG Chem for damages. The overseas corporation raised jurisdictional challenges to the claim, arguing that they didn’t have enough connections to be sued in the state of Texas.

However, through our efforts and diligence, we were able to contest these arguments and get the initial ruling on this matter reversed. This will ensure that proper procedural laws will be applied to the case, so our client can be heard in the proper venue. We work tirelessly to pursue justice for our vape injury clients across the U.S.

If you or a loved one were injured due to a defective battery, contact our law firm for advice at (415) 426-3000. Read on for more details of this important reversal and what it means for similar cases.

We’re pleased with the Court of Appeal’s decision. Primarily for our client so he can obtain justice, but also because of the Court’s sound reasoning and application of controlling law. This is the correct result.”

Levin Simes Attorney, Angela Nehmens

What Happened in This Case?

In an important Texas appellate court decision, a three-judge panel ruled that LG Chem Ltd. must face a lawsuit involving allegations of injuries caused by a defective LG battery.

Relevant details are as follows:

  • According to the opinion, Jeffrey Hause said a vaping device and LG battery were in his pants pocket when it exploded, severely burning him. Hause is represented by Angela Nehmens of Levin Simes, LLP and A. Craig Eiland of Eiland & Bonnin, PC.
  • Initially, LG Chem argued that the Texas court didn’t have jurisdiction over the case because they didn’t mean for its products to wind up in the state. The trial court originally affirmed this assertion.
  • However, on appeal, the judicial panel stated that LG Chem makes substantial sales and shipments directly to Texas consumers, establishing enough connection to be subject to Texas court jurisdiction.

The recent ruling highlights the importance of fighting for proper jurisdiction so that those injured can pursue justice in the appropriate court.

It takes a law firm that is both skilled and tenacious to stand up to large corporations that attempt to leverage filing rules to their advantage. Our team at Levin Simes was able to go the extra mile to research and apply the correct laws. As a result, our client can now have their day in court to resolve more important issues like liability and compensation.

What Is Jurisdiction, and Why Does it Matter?

In the current Hause case, LG Chem was arguing the Texas court did not have jurisdiction or power to hear the case for various reasons.

Jurisdiction refers to the power of a court to adjudicate a specific case. It addresses such questions as in which state and specific court a lawsuit may be litigated.
Determining “whether a court has jurisdiction over a case” is based on several factors, such as the location of the defendant business and the relationship of its business activities to the location of the injury.

Challenging a case on jurisdictional grounds is a common response when a corporate defendant is sued. It’s basically saying, “Let’s not discuss whether we’re liable or not — first of all, this is not the right court to sue us at, and we need to sort that out before we continue further.”

If it can be proven that a court does not have jurisdiction over a case, then the injured party will need to reassess and determine the proper court to file at. This can often discourage them from pursuing further action, and may cause them to exhaust needless resources on additional expenses.

At Levin Simes, we recognize and understand how jurisdictional challenges work, and aren’t afraid to tackle such tactics head-on using the full force of the law.

LG’s Arguments and the Court’s Responses

Essentially, LG Chem argued that it did not have strong enough ties in Texas to be sued in that state, but the court disagreed.

Chief Justice Yvonne T. Rodriguez, writing for the panel, said, “LG Chem insists that because it does not intend to foster a market for stand-alone consumer batteries in the vaping industry, the substantial connection is missing. We disagree.”

LG Chem also argued that it only sold its batteries to “sophisticated companies” for use in products like power tools, not to individual consumers to use in vape pens, which are often subject to explosions and fires.

However, the panel noted that for purposes of jurisdiction, it is not relevant whether a consumer uses a product in an application it was not designed for: “… so long as the nonresident defendant targets the forum market for the precise product at issue in the litigation, the defendant is subject to jurisdiction for any claims arising out of or related to its sale of the allegedly defective products.”

To put it simply, by targeting the Texas market with the product in question, LG Chem already subjected itself to the jurisdiction of Texas courts for claims connected with that product.

Other LG Chem Cases: Same Argument, Same Court Responses

LG Chem is also facing several other lawsuits involving defective batteries, both in Texas courts and across the country. In each case, the company has repeatedly made the same argument: that it does not have strong enough ties in Texas to be sued there.

Consider the following:

  • In September 2022, a different Texas appellate panel heard a nearly identical case and questioned: “How the company could be surprised that it was being sued in Texas?”
  • The judges on that panel repeatedly emphasized that LG Chem already served a market in Texas by selling lithium-ion batteries to companies for use in laptops sold to Texas consumers.
  • In yet another case currently being heard, LG Chem is arguing that Texas courts do not have authority over its American arm based in Georgia.

We are seeing a pattern emerging of LG Chem focusing on jurisdictional matters in many of the cases being brought against them for defective products.

Ultimately, in the Hause case, the panel voted 2-to-1 to send the case back to the trial court, stating that the claims were similar to those found in Ford Motor Co. v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court. In the Ford case, the court also found that the company’s business activities in the state were sufficiently related to be sued there.

Thus, our firm’s advocacy is laying the groundwork for future cases that may involve similar issues.

Contact Attorneys Who Overcome Jurisdictional Challenges

An experienced and knowledgeable attorney is needed in cases that involve jurisdictional challenges. As previously mentioned, these types of procedural matters can be extremely complex and intricate.

In particular, large international corporations often approach cases from a procedural standpoint in attempts to shield themselves from liability. At Levin Simes, we recognize and understand how jurisdictional challenges work and aren’t afraid to tackle such tactics head-on using the full force of the law.

If you or a loved one were injured by a product such as a defective vape battery, you need a qualified and seasoned law firm that knows the ins and outs of court requirements. Our legal team has a proven track record of successfully holding large corporations responsible for injuring consumers with their defective products.

Our verdicts and settlements speak for themselves. Contact us at (415) 426-3000 if you need representation. When you work with us, you can rest assured that we won’t stop until you receive the full justice you are entitled to under law.

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