Thursday, November 13, 2014, 10:06 AM

Contaminated Oysters in Virginia Restaurant Enough for Jurisdiction Under "Stream of Commerce" Test

Contaminated oysters served at a Roanoke restaurant were placed in the "stream of commerce" by a Connecticut seafood supplier, and thus served as the basis for the Western District of Virginia to exercise personal jurisdiction over the out-of-state seafood supplier. 

Since the oysters at issue traveled through several different distributors and suppliers before reaching Frankie Rowland's Steakhouse in Roanoke, the original supplier had argued that the was no personal jurisdiction over him given his lack of contacts with Virginia.  Judge Conrad, however, held that although the oysters were initially sold outside of Virginia, they were placed in the "stream of commerce" and purposefully availed to the Virginia market.  Therefore, it was foreseeable that the oysters would end up in Virginia and the supplier haled into court there.

The obvious lesson to be learned from this case is to eat locally sourced oysters, such as those served in Charlottesville's new Rocksalt restaurant.  There will be no jurisdictional issues if you get sick from eating the Olde Salts from Chincoteauge, Virginia or the Rappahannocks from the Middle Peninsula.

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