State of Tennessee by and through Robert E. Cooper, Jr. v. NV Sumatra Tobacco Trading Co.

Date / Time

Lower Court Summary:

This appeal involves in personam jurisdiction over a foreign defendant. Appellant State of Tennessee brought suit against Appellee tobacco product manufacturer, under the Tobacco Escrow Fund Act, Tennessee Code Annotated Sections 47-31-101 et seq., alleging that Appellee had failed to make escrow deposits, as required under the Act, for cigarettes sold in Tennessee. Based upon the trial court’s finding that it lacked personal jurisdiction over the Appellee, it entered summary judgment in favor of the manufacturer. The State appeals. Upon review, we conclude that: (1) the facts of this case show that the manufacturer intentionally used a distribution system with the desired result of selling its product in all fifty states, including Tennessee, so as to support a finding that the manufacturer had minimum contacts with the State necessary to invoke the exercise of personal jurisdiction; (2) the exercise of personal jurisdiction, under the facts of this case, is reasonable and fair; (3) the manufacturer is subject to regulation under the Act; and (4) the Act is not unconstitutional. Moreover, we conclude that: (1) Appellee is a tobacco products manufacturer, as defined by the Escrow Fund Act; (2) Appellee’s cigarettes were sold in Tennessee; and (3) Appellee is, therefore, liable for escrow payments under the Escrow Fund Act. Consequently, we grant the State’s motion for summary judgment. The order of the trial court is reversed, and the matter is remanded for entry of summary judgment in favor of Appellant State and for calculation of the escrow amount owed by Appellee and entry of judgment thereon.

Supreme Court
Middle Section