Court Dismisses Professional Negligence Action Against Insurance Broker for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction

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Plaintiffs, former shareholders of a holding company for two New Jersey-based insurance companies, sued various affiliates of Aon Risk Services Companies alleging that Aon was negligent in failing to secure insurance coverage after the plaintiffs became obligated to indemnify the insurance companies for losses arising from a reinsurance program gone wrong. Aon moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. In opposition, the plaintiffs argued that there was general jurisdiction over one of the Aon entities based on a “consent” theory. The court disagreed, finding that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Daimler “precludes the exercise of personal jurisdiction over a corporation simply because the corporation is registered to do business in New Jersey.”

The plaintiffs also argued that there was specific jurisdiction over each of the defendants, including because Aon allegedly “agreed to notice claims under an insurance policy that primarily insured against a New Jersey risk.” Again, the court disagreed, finding that none of the Aon entities had sufficient contacts with New Jersey to confer jurisdiction. The court emphasized that any contact Aon had with New Jersey was “fortuitous” and did not stem from a “deliberate targeting” of the state but rather from the “unilateral activity” of a third party. The court therefore granted Aon’s motion to dismiss without prejudice.

Ferguson v. Aon Risk Services Companies, Inc., No. 3:19-cv-09303 (D.N.J. Feb. 26, 2020).

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