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Dejames v. Magnificence Carriers Inc.

decided: July 9, 1981.

JOSEPH DEJAMES, APPELLANT
v.
MAGNIFICENCE CARRIERS, INC., VENTURE SHIPPING (MANAGERS LTD.), NIPPON YUSEN KAISHA, HITACHI SHIPBUILDING AND ENGINEERING COMPANY, LTD., AND USUKI TEKKOSHO HITACHI SHIPBUILDING AND ENGINEERING COMPANY, LTD., APPELLEE



APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY (D.C. Civil No. 78-02892)

Before Seitz, Chief Judge, and Van Dusen and Gibbons, Circuit Judges.

Author: Seitz

Opinion OF THE COURT

Joseph DeJames appeals from an order of the district court dismissing his admiralty claim against Hitachi Shipbuilding and Engineering Co., Ltd. (Hitachi) for lack of personal jurisdiction and insufficient service of process. Although the complaint was not dismissed as to all defendants, the district court determined that there was no just reason for delay and entered final judgment for Hitachi pursuant to rule 54(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The district court had admiralty jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1333 (1976). This court has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291 (1976).

I.

DeJames, a New Jersey longshoreman, was injured while working on the M.V. Magnificence Venture (the vessel) when it was moored to a pier in Camden, New Jersey. DeJames filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, alleging negligence and strict liability in tort against, inter alia, the charterers of the vessel and Hitachi, a Japanese corporation with its principal place of business in Japan. Hitachi had converted the vessel in Japan from a bulk carrier to an automobile carrier. DeJames alleged that Hitachi's conversion work was defective.

After the complaint was filed, process was served on Hitachi at its place of business in Japan by the Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs apparently in accordance with the requirements of an international treaty. See Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters, 20 U.S.T. 361-367 (1969). Hitachi filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction pursuant to rule 12(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. In support of this motion, Hitachi submitted an affidavit from Kiyoshi Ohno, the manager of its ship repair business department in Tokyo, Japan. According to this affidavit, Hitachi completed all work on the vessel at its Japanese shipyard and had no further contact with the vessel after it left Osaka, Japan. The affidavit also states that Hitachi does not maintain an office, have an agent of any type, or transact any business in New Jersey.

After completion of discovery, briefing, and oral argument on the question of jurisdiction, the district court dismissed the complaint against Hitachi. The district court held that there were insufficient contacts with the state of New Jersey to support in personam jurisdiction. See DeJames v. Magnificence Carriers, Inc., 491 F. Supp. 1276, 1279-81 (D.N.J.1980). The court then considered whether it would be appropriate to aggregate all of Hitachi's contacts with the United States for the purpose of establishing personal jurisdiction. The district court believed that a defendant's national contacts might be a viable basis for jurisdiction where service could be effected through wholly federal means. See id. at 1284. However, because Congress has not authorized nationwide service of process for admiralty actions, and because it was necessary for DeJames to utilize New Jersey's long-arm rule, the court concluded that the jurisdictional inquiry was limited to the question whether Hitachi's contacts with New Jersey were sufficient to confer personal jurisdiction. See id.

On appeal, DeJames makes two arguments for reversing the district court. First, he argues that Hitachi's contacts with the state of New Jersey are sufficient to support personal jurisdiction. Alternatively, he argues for the first time on appeal that service was made by wholly federal means, and thus that the district court erred in not considering Hitachi's national contacts.

II.

Because this suit arises under the district court's admiralty jurisdiction, the due process clause of the fifth amendment determines whether the district court has personal jurisdiction over Hitachi. See Fraley v. Chesapeake & Ohio Railway, 397 F.2d 1, 4 (3d Cir. 1968). However, the principle announced in diversity cases such as International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 66 S. Ct. 154, 90 L. Ed. 95 (1945), and its progeny is also applicable to nondiversity cases. See Fraley, 397 F.2d at 3. This standard provides that a defendant is subject to a forum's jurisdiction only if its contacts with the forum are such that maintenance of the suit will not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice. It is unclear whether the Fraley court meant that the fifth amendment requires a defendant to have minimum contacts with the forum state, or whether the court intended only that the International Shoe test be applied by analogy, so that a defendant need only have minimum contacts with the United States as a whole. In any event, even in nondiversity cases, if service of process must be made pursuant to a state long-arm statute or rule of court, the defendant's amenability to suit in federal district court is limited by that statute or rule. See Hartley v. Sioux City & New Orleans Barge Lines, Inc., 379 F.2d 354, 357 (3d Cir. 1967).

With these principles in mind, we will examine DeJames' arguments that the district court erred in dismissing his claim against Hitachi for lack of personal jurisdiction. In the district court, DeJames claimed that service had been made pursuant to New Jersey Court Rule 4:4-4. Although he now claims alternatively that service was made by wholly federal means, we address first his argument that Hitachi's contacts with the state of New Jersey alone are sufficient to support personal jurisdiction under that state's long-arm rule.

A.

The New Jersey long-arm rule is intended to extend as far as is constitutionally permissible. In enacting its long-arm rule, the state of New Jersey is limited by the due process constraints of the fourteenth amendment. Therefore, we believe that Hitachi's amenability to suit in the District of New Jersey must be judged by fourteenth amendment standards. We recognize that this creates an anomalous situation because it results in a federal court in a nondiversity case being limited by the due process restrictions imposed on the states by the fourteenth amendment as opposed to those imposed on the federal government by the fifth amendment. However, it would be equally anomalous to utilize a state long-arm rule to authorize service of process on a defendant in a manner that the state body enacting the rule could not constitutionally authorize. The anomaly of a federal court being limited by the requirements of the fourteenth amendment in a nondiversity case where service must be made pursuant to a state long-arm rule could be easily rectified by congressional authorization of nationwide service of process for admiralty cases. It is not within our province to create such authorization.

DeJames directs our attention to only one contact that Hitachi has had with the state of New Jersey: the vessel on which Hitachi had done conversion work was docked in Camden, New Jersey when DeJames was injured.*fn1 DeJames argues that this contact is sufficient to support the exercise of in personam jurisdiction over Hitachi.

The evolution of the due process standards that guide courts in determining whether a defendant is amenable to suit in a particular forum has been detailed on numerous occasions and need not be repeated at length here. The primary consideration in the jurisdictional inquiry is that of fundamental fairness to the defendant. The Supreme Court held in International Shoe :

Due process requires only that in order to subject a defendant to a judgment in personam, if he be not present within the territory of the forum, he have certain minimum contacts with it such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend "traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice."

326 U.S. at 316, 66 S. Ct. at 158 (quoting Milliken v. Meyer, 311 U.S. 457, 463, 61 S. Ct. 339, 342, 85 L. Ed. 278 (1940)). In Hanson v. Denckla, 357 U.S. 235, 253, 78 S. Ct. 1228, 1239, 2 L. Ed. 2d 1283 (1958), the Supreme Court further refined its due process analysis by stating that "it is essential in each case that there be some act by which the defendant purposefully avails itself of the privilege of conducting activities within the forum State, thus invoking the benefits and protections of its laws." Recently, in Shaffer v. Heitner, 433 U.S. 186, 97 S. Ct. 2569, 53 L. Ed. 2d 683 (1977), Kulko v. Superior Court, 436 U.S. 84, 98 S. Ct. 1690, 56 L. Ed. 2d 132 (1978), and World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 100 S. Ct. 559, 62 L. Ed. 2d 490 (1980), the Supreme Court indicated that due process requires that the defendant have a reasonable expectation that the nature of its conduct is such that it may be "haled before a court" in the forum state. Standing alone, the fact that the ...


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