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JAMES WHALEN AND KATHERINE WHALEN v. WALT DISNEY WORLD COMPANY AND INSURANCE COMPANY NORTH AMERICA. APPEAL WALT DISNEY WORLD COMPANY (01/11/80)

filed: January 11, 1980.

JAMES WHALEN AND KATHERINE WHALEN, PARENTS AND NATURAL GUARDIANS OF ERIN WHALEN, A MINOR AND JAMES WHALEN
v.
WALT DISNEY WORLD COMPANY AND INSURANCE COMPANY OF NORTH AMERICA. APPEAL OF WALT DISNEY WORLD COMPANY



No. 1625 October Term, 1977, Appeal from an Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Civil Division No. 224, April Term, 1976.

COUNSEL

James J. Donohue, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Christopher R. Rosser, Philadelphia, for appellees.

Hester, Hoffman and Catania, JJ.*fn*

Author: Hoffman

[ 274 Pa. Super. Page 248]

Appellant contends that the lower court erred in dismissing its preliminary objections challenging the court's in personam jurisdiction. We agree and, accordingly, reverse the order of the lower court.

On April 6, 1976, the appellees filed a complaint in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia against Walt Disney World Company (hereinafter "Disney") and the Insurance Company of North America, alleging that because of Disney's negligence, appellee Erin Whalen had been injured at a Florida hotel owned and operated by Disney.*fn1 On May 10, 1976, Disney filed preliminary objections, contending that the Pennsylvania courts lack in personam jurisdiction over it because it has no connection with Pennsylvania. In particular, Disney averred that it is not incorporated in Pennsylvania, it is not registered to do business in Pennsylvania, it has no employees or agents or a place of business in Pennsylvania, and it does not send any merchandise into Pennsylvania. In their answer to the preliminary objections, appellees denied Disney's averment that it has no connection with Pennsylvania. Appellees alleged that through its employees, servants, agents, and affiliates, Disney engages in widespread advertising, solicitation, negotiations, acceptance of reservations, and other activities in Pennsylvania. Subsequently, Disney filed an affidavit of Philip N. Smith, a Disney vice-president, who stated, inter alia, that Disney is a Delaware corporation with its only place of business in the State of Florida; that its sole business activity consists of

[ 274 Pa. Super. Page 249]

    the ownership and operation of an entertainment complex located in Bay Lake, Florida; that it is not qualified to do business in Pennsylvania; that it has not appointed an agent for the service of process in Pennsylvania; that it is not listed in any Pennsylvania telephone directory; that it pays no commissions to any travel agent or other person in Pennsylvania for booking reservations or selling tickets; that it has no assets, office, or place of business in Pennsylvania; and that it has no agents, employees, salesmen, or representatives located in Pennsylvania. In its answer to appellees' interrogatories, Disney acknowledged that during 1974, 1975, and 1976, it had purchased merchandise from Globe Ticket Company (hereinafter "Globe") in Horsham, Pennsylvania. Disney stated that the gross volume of business with Globe was $353,734.00 in 1974, $481,646.00 in 1975, and $716,345.00 in 1976. On April 27, 1977, the lower court dismissed Disney's preliminary objections. This appeal followed.

The long-arm statute in effect at the time this action was instituted*fn2 provided:

Any foreign corporation which shall have done any business in this Commonwealth without procuring a certificate of authority to do so from the Department of State as required by statute, shall be conclusively presumed to have designated the Department of State as its true and lawful attorney authorized to accept, on its behalf, service of process in any action arising within this Commonwealth.

Act of Nov. 15, 1972, P.L. 1063, No. 271, ยง 8302(a). Section 8309 of the long-arm statute defined ...


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