Generally speaking, the question whether that fictive nomad called a foreign corporation has a constitutionally detectable "presence" outside its customary habitat is not the sort of question which yields a ready answer one way or another. It is perhaps even more than is true with most legal problems a matter of a little more or a little less. The facts of one case have only a limited transfer value to other situations: In large measure, this is so for the very reason that the entire doctrinal inquiry will "due process of law" be offended if this unentity is required to "appear" here? smacks of the kind of elegant unreality that only lawyers can admire. Nevertheless, to the extent that the inquiry can be put in sharper focus under the lens of comparable facts, it would seem that more useful lessons can be derived from M & N Meat Company v. American Boneless Beef Corp., 380 F. Supp. 912 (W.D.Pa.1974), than from the cases defendant relies on. There, a Pennsylvania plaintiff through a Chicago broker ordered three loads of beef, stored in New York, from a Massachusetts defendant. At plaintiff's direction, defendant shipped the first load of beef to Indiana and Tennessee, but defendant allegedly failed to supply the remaining beef; whereupon plaintiff brought suit in the Western District of Pennsylvania. Judge Snyder concluded that, by virtue of the Pennsylvania long-arm statute, as construed in Proctor & Schwartz, Inc. v. Cleveland Lumber Co., 228 Pa.Super. 12, 323 A.2d 11 (1974), there was proper In personam jurisdiction over the defendant.
To be sure, there are some factual differences between M & N Meat Company v. American Boneless Beef Corp. and the present case. For example, in the present case defendant insists that it has nothing to do with the shipment to or from its Brooklyn plant of the goods on which it prints designs, whereas in M & N Meat Company v. American Boneless Beef Corp. defendant was the shipper and at least some part of the shipment which was consummated seems to have passed through Pennsylvania. On the other hand, the present case is one in which defendant and plaintiff, according to the uncontradicted allegations, appear to have had a continuous business relationship for approximately half a year. Under these circumstances, Judge Snyder's rationale in M & N Meat Company v. American Boneless Beef Corp. would seem of equal force here. Defendant "could reasonably foresee that its transaction would have realistic economic impact on the commerce of Pennsylvania;" the transaction was the genesis of the litigation; and therefore, "It is only just under the facts of this case to presume that the Defendant should have anticipated that in the event of his inability to conform to the terms of the contract, for whatever reasons, he would be required to defend in the forum most affected by the agreement." 380 F. Supp. at 915, 917.
In sum, in the light of the transaction which has given rise to this lawsuit, there seems to be no constitutional obstacle to directing this defendant to answer this complaint in a court sitting in Pennsylvania; for defendant here has "(the) very minimal contacts (with Pennsylvania) required to satisfy due process." Columbia Metal Culvert Co., Inc. v. Kaiser Industries Corp., 526 F.2d 724, 730 (3d Cir. 1975).
In support of its alternative motion to transfer this action to a federal court in New York, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a),
defendant argued that two individuals whom it desired to implead Milton Rinzler, the owner of the building where the fire occurred, and Vincent Violano, the repairman who serviced defendant's sprinkler system were amenable to process in New York but not in this forum. But soon after filing the motion to transfer, defendant moved for leave to join Rinzler and Violano as third-party defendants in this forum a motion granted by Judge Davis before this case was reassigned to me. Both Rinzler and Violano have been served, but to date neither one has filed an answer or other response to the third-party complaint, and on motion of the defendant default judgments have been entered against both. As matters now stand, therefore, the question of transfer reduces to a question of the balance of convenience as between the litigants. Defendant's understandable preference to be sued in its home jurisdiction does not suffice to displace plaintiff's home preference, reflected in plaintiff's choice of this forum. Shutte v. Armco Steel Corp., 431 F.2d 22, 25 (3d Cir. 1970). Were the case one in which third-party defendants could not be sued here, the motion to transfer would be seen in a different light. But that is not the present posture. Accordingly, the motion to transfer will be denied but without prejudice to its renewal should the posture of the case appear to change.
For the reasons set forth in this Memorandum an order denying both the defendant's motions will be entered concurrently with the filing of this Memorandum.