For years, LG Chem Ltd., a Korean company, has aggressively sought to avoid its day of reckoning before a jury for the substantial injuries caused by its defective 18650 batteries widely used in e-cigarette or “vape” devices. It did so by routinely arguing that no court in the United States has the power, or “personal jurisdiction”, over LG Chem to bind it to a lawsuit because it is not a resident of any U.S. state. LG Chem maintained this strategy when faced with a lawsuit in Texas by Levin Simes Abrams’ client, Tommy Morgan, who suffered severe burns when a LG lithium-ion 18650 battery exploded and caught fire in his pants pocket. Mr. Morgan is a Texas resident, purchased the LG 18650 battery in Texas, used the battery in Texas, and was ultimately harmed in Texas when the battery exploded. The battery that injured Mr. Morgan is the same product that LG Chem ships, exports, and sells en masse directly to Texas entities. LG Chem argued that it lacked the minimum contacts with the state of Texas to confer jurisdiction and therefore, it could not be sued in Texas. In April 2019, the Texas lower court rejected LG Chem’s argument and allowed Mr. Morgan to continue his lawsuit against LG Chem in Texas. LG Chem immediately appealed.
On December 15, 2020, a three-judge panel of the Texas First Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s finding of sufficient minimum contacts and held that Texas courts may exercise personal jurisdiction over LG Chem. The appellate court specifically found that Mr. Morgan’s “undisputed jurisdictional allegations and evidence show that LG Chem designs and manufactures batteries of the type that injured Morgan for the Texas market, and that it markets, sells, and distributes large quantities of such batteries to customers in Texas.” The appellate court’s ruling rendered a decisive blow to LG Chem’s longstanding tactic to challenge jurisdiction and avoid having lawsuits like that of Mr. Morgan’s decided on the merits.
LG Chem subsequently filed a motion for rehearing and en banc review, asking the Court of Appeals to change its decision and/or have the entire appellate court review the case, in place of the three-judge panel that initially reviewed the case. On October 7, 2021, the Court of Appeals unanimously denied LG Chem’s motions, which failed to demonstrate the Panel’s December 2020 opinion rested on legal and factual errors. Mr. Morgan and other Texas residents severely injured by LG Chem’s defective 18650 batteries will now have their day in court and ultimately try the case against LG Chem before a Texas jury of their peers.
Levin Simes Abrams has many clients in Texas where this appeal was won, California where it is headquartered, as well as many other states. Levin Simes Abrams is a national product liability law firm and we can investigate your case. To speak with a vape burn attorney about an injury caused by a defective product, contact us at 415-480-7448 or firstname.lastname@example.org.