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Date: 09-22-2023

Case Style:

Nathan Mehl v. LG Chem, Ltd., et al.

Case Number: 6:21-cv-01149-AA

Judge: Ann L. Aiken

Court: United States District Court for the District of Oregon (Lane County)

Plaintiff's Attorney:

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Defendant's Attorney: George S. Pitcher and Rachel A. Robinson

Description: Eugeme, Oregon personal injury lawyer represented the Plaintiff who sued the Defendant on a negligence theory.

Plaintiff Nathan Mehl is a resident of Eugene, Oregon.

Plaintiff brought claims for strict products liability, negligence, breach of the implied warranty of merchantability, and for punitive damages. Defendant LG Chem moved to dismiss on the ground that this Court lacked personal jurisdiction. Plaintiff conceded that the Court cannot exercise general personal jurisdiction over LG Chem and so the Court will confine its analysis to specific personal jurisdiction.

Defendant LG Chem Ltd. is a Korean company with its headquarters and principal offices in Seoul, South Korea. Lee Decl. G Chem “does not maintain any physical presence in the United States,” but uses “a network of distributors and wholly owned subsidiaries in and throughout the United States that work together to sell various products nationwide.”

Plaintiff purchased an LG brand lithium-ion 18650 battery cell online through at some point before August 8, 2019. Plaintiff used the battery in his e-cigarette. On August 8, 2019, the battery exploded while it was in the pocket of Plaintiff's pants, injuring Plaintiff.

LG Chem “previously manufactured 18650 lithium-ion battery cells for use by sophisticated companies in specific applications, such as power tools, where the cells are encased in a battery pack with protective circuitry.” As of December 1, 2020, the 18650 lithium-ion battery cells are manufactured and sold by LG Energy Solution, Ltd., which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of LG Chem. The LG brand 18650 lithium-ion battery cells are not designed or manufactured in Oregon.

LG Chem “never designed, manufactured, distributed, advertised, or sold 18650 lithium-ion cells for sale to or use by individual consumers as standalone, replacement batteries,” and “never authorized any manufacturer, wholesaler, distributor, retailer, re-seller, or other individual or entity to do so,” including “for use by individual consumers as standalone, replaceable batteries in e-cigarette devices or for any other purpose.” “The 18650 lithium-ion cells manufactured by LG Chem are industrial component products; they are not standalone, replaceable consumer batters and they were not designed to be handled by consumers.” “Consumers could not purchase 18650 lithium-ion battery cells from LG Chem or through LG Chem's website.”

LG Chem did not market or advertise its 18650 lithium-ion cells in Oregon; has no licensed dealers or retailers of 18650 cells in Oregon; and did not authorize or advertise consumer repair or replacement services for 18650 lithium-ion cells in Oregon. More specifically, LG Chem “never authorized or any vendors to sell or distribute LG-brand 18650 lithium-ion battery cells for any purpose, and did not authorize or any vendors to sell or distribute LG-brand lithium-ion cells for use by individual consumers as standalone, replaceable batteries.” In addition, LG Chem “did not sell or distribute any 18650 lithium-ion cells to any customer located in Oregon in the three years leading up to Plaintiff's alleged injury on August 8, 2019.”

Outcome: Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration, ECF No. 18, is GRANTED and the Court's prior decision, ECF No. 16, is amended as set forth above. However, the Court's ultimate conclusion concerning personal jurisdiction remains unchanged and the Court declines to alter its Judgment of Dismissal.

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