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World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson

Supreme Court of Oklahoma
585 P.2d 351 (Okla. 1978)


Facts

The Robinson family bought a new Audi in New York. They decided to move to Arizona, so they drove west. Along the way, they passed through Oklahoma, and a reckless driver rear-ended their Audi. The car caught fire, injuring Mrs. Robinson and both children. The Robinsons filed a lawsuit in Oklahoma state court, claiming that the car’s gas tank and fuel system had been designed improperly. They sued the car’s distributor and the dealer from which they’d bought their Audi. The dealer, Seaway (plaintiff), operated only in New York. The distributor—somewhat misleadingly called World-Wide Volkswagen (plaintiff)—operated only on the east coast. Both lacked any ties to Oklahoma and argued, in a special appearance, that the trial court lacked jurisdiction over them. The trial court disagreed and allowed the case to proceed against World-Wide and Seaway, both of which then challenged that decision at the Oklahoma Supreme Court. The legal dispute was technically between World-Wide and Seaway, on one side, and the judge, Woodson (defendant), on the other side because they challenged his exercise of jurisdiction over them. 

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Barnes, J.)

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