(CN) - The Romanian manufacturer of an assault rifle used in a fatal drive-by shooting in Washington need not face a lawsuit here, the D.C. Circuit ruled.
After their son J.H. was killed via an assault rifle in a 2010 drive-by shooting, Norman Williams and Diane Howe learned that National Company Romarm, a Romanian company owned by the Romanian government, had manufactured the murder weapon. Assault rifles are prohibited in Washington, D.C.
A federal judge dismissed the couple's case against Romarm for lack of jurisdiction, however, and the D.C. Circuit affirmed Tuesday.
The 15-page ruling cites a concurring opinion by Justice Stephen Breyer from the 2011 U.S. Supreme Court decision J. McIntyre Machinery v. Nicastro.
Breyer had made clear there that a "forum state could not constitutionally assert personal jurisdiction over the foreign manufacturer based on the following facts: the distributor's single sale to a customer in the forum state; the manufacturer's desire that the distributor pursue customers throughout the United States; and the manufacturer's business-related contacts with various states other than the forum state," Judge Janice Brown wrote for the three-judge panel.
Rather than a single isolated sale, a plaintiff must show a "regular flow or regular course of sales" in order to establish jurisdiction, the court added.
"Yet the only district-specific information appellants proffer is that some
Romarm-manufactured weapons have ended up in the district through criminal trafficking," Brown wrote (emphasis in original). "Here, we do not even have the isolated sale
found insufficient. Instead, appellants rely solely on the 'mere unilateral' (and criminal) activity of others - activity that takes place after the standard chain of distribution is complete; this cannot satisfy due process."