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Supreme Court of Minnesota: Data Collection Establishes Personal Jurisdiction

Today, the Supreme Court of Minnesota issued a decision, Bandemer v. Ford Motor Co., No. A17-1182, 2019 Minn. LEXIS 427 (Minn. July 31, 2019), finding that personal jurisdiction existed when minimum contacts were established through the sale and advertising of a type of car by a defendant, and when that defendant collected repair and redesign data from dealerships located in the state. This case concerned a 2015 accident which took place in Minnesota involving a driver and a passenger, Bandemer, who were both Minnesota residents, but a vehicle that was manufactured and purchased out of state. Bandemer suffered brain damage when an airbag failed to deploy in the 1994 Ford Crown Victoria.

Justice Anne McKeig's opinion states that, "Ford's data collection, marketing, and advertising in Minnesota demonstrate that it delivered its product into the stream of commerce with the intention that Minnesotans purchase such vehicles. Ford collected data on how its vehicles perform through Ford dealerships in Minnesota and used that data to inform improvements to its designs and to train mechanics." Id. at *10. This demonstrates that Ford purposely availed itself of the benefits and privileges of the forum state. The cause of action is connected to Ford's contacts with the state because it collects safety related data in Minnesota.

Justice Barry Anderson's dissent disagreed finding that Ford's contacts with Minnesota, data collection and advertising, were not related to the cause of action. He found that Ford's responses to Bandemer's request for admissions did not show that it collected safety related data in Minnesota because it received data from all over the United States and only considered it in future designs - not a review of the safety of a 1994 model. There was no specific personal jurisdiction "Ford's data collection efforts may have captured information in Minnesota that was incorporated into the design of the 1994 Crown Victoria and its component parts, which Bandemer claims were defective. But with nothing more, '[i]t may have been' amounts to speculation. McCool v. Davis, 197 N.W. 93, 96 (Minn. 1924). Conjecture and guess are not enough to satisfy due process." Id. at *34-35.

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