As we go through this chapter, consider the case of Harry and Kay Robinson. In which court should the Robinsons file their action? Can the Oklahoma court hear the case and make a judgment that will be enforceable against all of the defendants? Which law will the court use to come to a decision? Will it use New York law, Oklahoma law, federal law, or German law?
Robinson v. Audi
Harry and Kay Robinson purchased a new Audi automobile from Seaway Volkswagen, Inc. (Seaway), in Massena, New York, in 1976. The following year the Robinson family, who resided in New York, left that state for a new home in Arizona. As they passed through Oklahoma, another car struck their Audi in the rear, causing a fire that severely burned Kay Robinson and her two children. Later on, the Robinsons brought a products-liability action in the District Court for Creek County, Oklahoma, claiming that their injuries resulted from the defective design and placement of the Audi’s gas tank and fuel system. They sued numerous defendants, including the automobile’s manufacturer, Audi NSU Auto Union Aktiengesellschaft (Audi); its importer, Volkswagen of America, Inc. (Volkswagen); its regional distributor, World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. (World-Wide); and its retail dealer, Seaway.
Should the Robinsons bring their action in state court or in federal court? Over which of the defendants will the court have personal jurisdiction?