Suing for Foreign Airplane Crash Damages In Texas (Jurisdiction)

The Wenche Siemer v. Learjet Acquisition Corp., 966 F.2d 179, 181 (5th Cir. 1992) plaintiffs sued Learjet for the wrongful death of those killed aboard its aircraft that crashed overseas. Id. at 180. The plaintiffs and decedents were residents of Greece; the aircraft was operated by a Greek company and permanently based and serviced there; it was not designed or manufactured in Texas, ever repaired or serviced there, or ever owned by a Texan; Learjet was a Delaware corporation whose only physical presence in Texas was a designated corporate agent; all Learjet's sales were made from products warehoused outside Texas; only about one percent of Learjet's sales were to Texas residents; Learjet advertised in national journals distributed in Texas; and Learjet occasionally mailed information to prospective customers in Texas. Siemer, 966 F.2d at 180-81. The trial judge dismissed the claims against Learjet for lack of general personal jurisdiction, and the Fifth Circuit court of appeals affirmed. Id. at 180, 184. Only about one percent of Learjet's sales were to Texas residents. Id. at 181. While there was no indication how this percentage compared to Learjet's sales in other countries, we note that the plaintiff in federal court has the burden to show personal jurisdiction. Gardemal v. Westin Hotel Co., 186 F.3d 588, 592 (5th Cir. 1999). Therefore, the plaintiffs in Siemer had the burden of showing Learjet could reasonably have anticipated being sued in Texas. One way of doing this would have been to show the one percent of sales to Texas residents was high, compared to that in other jurisdictions. The Siemer plaintiffs evidently did not or could not do so