The case of the day is Moore v. Lowe’s Companies (W.D. Ky. 2013). David Alexander Moore claimed that he was injured when he used a table saw that was manufactured by Rexon Industrial Corp. Rexon was a Taiwanese firm. Moore first tried to serve Rexon by service on the Kentucky Secretary of State. The Secretary of State forwarded the summmons and complaint to Rexon by sending it via certified mail to Power Tool Specialists, Inc., a Massachusetts corporation with its office in South Carolina. According to Moore, PTS was Rexon’s subsidiary. Rexon moved to dismiss for insufficient service of process.
The judge denied the motion. The facts were somewhat noteworthy because it was particularly clear that PTS and Rexon were sufficiently intertwined to make the outcome of the case pretty clear. For one thing, two other courts, in two different cases, had found PTS was an agent of Rexon for service of process. For another thing, Rexon itself, in testimony, had admitted that it did business in the US as PTS.
The judge treated the question as one of federal law, only turning to Kentucky law at the end of the opinion, to amplify his decision. I have previously opined that federal law does indeed govern, though as I have noted, there is not an enormous amount of federal common law on the question of agency.