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Bendick v. Picillo

ELR Citation: 16 ELR 20262
Nos. No. 77-3161, (R.I. Super. Ct., 10/09/1985)

The court holds that it does not have personal jurisdiction under state law over a non-resider corporation and university that generated hazardous waste disposed of in Rhode Island. The court first holds that Rhode Island's jurisdiction statute allows the state to assert personal jurisdiction over nonresident defendants up to the due process limits imposed by the federal Constitution. The court then considers whether the constitutional requirements of "minimum contacts" have been met, and rules that they have not. The court first weighs defendant corporation's contacts with the state and finds that they are insufficient to satisfy the "minimum contacts" test. Defendant owns no property, employs no persons, makes no sales and conducts no research within the state. The mere existence of service agreements between the corporate defendant and local universities does not by itself establish minimum contacts. Nor has defendant purposely availed itself of the privilege of conducting activities within the state, thereby invoking the benefits and protections of state laws. Lastly, the presence of defendant's hazardous waste within the state does not constitute tortious contact sufficient to establish minimum contacts. Defendant did not place its waste in interstate commerce; instead it contracted with a firm in New Jersey, where the waste originated, and is not directly responsible for the transportation of the waste to Rhode Island. The court then applies the same test to the university defendant and rules that it also is beyond the court's reach. The only contact the university has with Rhode Island is recruiting students from within the state. The court rejects the state's argument that the university has had tortious contact with the state for much the same reasons it rejected the arguments with respect to the corporate defendant.

[A related decision appears at 16 ELR 20331.]

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Daniel Schatz
Office of the Attorney General
72 Pine St., Providence RI 02903
(401) 274-4400

Counsel for Defendants
Charles J. Rogers Jr.
25 S. Angell St., Providence RI 02906
(401) 272-1000

Joseph E. Gallucci
1192 Westminster St., Providence RI 02907
(401) 421-1810