Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

SCHMIDT v. LEADER DOGS FOR THE BLIND

July 15, 1982

WANDA SCHMIDT and JOSEPH SCHMIDT, h/w
v.
LEADER DOGS FOR THE BLIND, INC.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SHAPIRO

 NORMA L. SHAPIRO, J.

 STATEMENT OF FACTS

 Leader Dogs for the Blind, Inc. ("Leader Dogs"), defendant in this diversity case, has moved to dismiss for lack of in personam jurisdiction, or in the alternative to transfer. There having been full discovery on these issues, the motion to transfer pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) will be granted.

 Plaintiffs, Wanda and Joseph Schmidt, are citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Leader Dogs, a non-profit organization incorporated in Michigan, provides training and guide dogs free of charge to qualified blind applicants. Mrs. Schmidt travelled to Rochester, Michigan in June, 1979 to attend one of defendant's four-week training programs. Mrs. Schmidt's application had been sponsored by the Northampton Township (Pennsylvania) Lions Club. Plaintiffs allege that in the course of this training, Mrs. Schmidt fell, injured both feet, and was negligently treated at Leader Dogs' infirmary and a nearby hospital. Complaint, para. 18.

 Plaintiffs originally brought actions in federal courts in Pennsylvania and Michigan against Leader Dogs, the hospital to which Mrs. Schmidt was taken, and the physician and radiologist who treated her there.*However, in this action plaintiffs subsequently consented to dismiss all defendants other than Leader Dogs for lack of personal jurisdiction here; therefore, plaintiffs seek to maintain an action against all the original defendants in Michigan and against Leader Dogs alone in Pennsylvania. Counts I and V of plaintiffs' Complaint assert tort claims against Leader Dogs; Counts IX and X allege a breach of a contract between Leader Dogs and the Northampton Township Lions Club for the benefit of Mrs. Schmidt.

 Leader Dogs, since its incorporation in 1939, has trained students from most states and from several foreign countries, but its training facilities have always been in Michigan only. Defendant's Answers to Plaintiffs' Interrogatories, Second Set, Nos. 2-3. Of its 3,753 graduates, three hundred have come from Pennsylvania (slightly under eight percent of the total number), Id., Nos. 40-41; 161 are still alive and residing in Pennsylvania, and remain subject to contractual obligations assumed on receiving leader dogs. Defendant's Amended Answers to Plaintiffs' Interrogatories, Second Set, No. 78. These contracts were executed in Michigan. Id.

 The standard conditions for obtaining a dog prohibit mistreating the dog, breeding it, having it sterilized, or using it to guide persons other than its owner. A dog must be returned to defendant upon death of its owner. See, Affidavit of Robert Burke, Exhibit "A" ("Transfer of Title and Placement Agreement"). Other than the contract regarding each of the leader dogs, defendant's contact with a program graduate is limited to an annual Christmas card and counselling at the graduate's request. Defendant's Answers, supra, Nos. 61; 13, 58.

 Lions clubs have contributed financial support to defendant and have solicited applicants for leader dogs in Pennsylvania. See, Defendant's Answers, supra, No. 37. For the last five fiscal years, Pennsylvania clubs have contributed over $100,000 annually to defendant's general operating fund, id. ; the record does not disclose defendant's total budget. Defendant has no contractual obligations to the Lions clubs, but it entertains club officials at its Michigan facility and provides local clubs with speakers or other information upon request. Id., Nos. 63(d), 64(d). Leader Dogs also sends copies of correspondence with applicants to Lions Club sponsors, Defendant's Amended Answers, supra, No. 47 (copies of correspondence attached), and relies on Lions Club sponsors to assist graduates in returning dogs when necessary, see, Affidavit of Jeannette Susan Howells.

 Defendant has not paid for advertising in this state but seeks radio broadcast of unpaid public service announcements. Defendant has mailed taped messages for this purpose to 177 radio stations in Pennsylvania in the last five years, but whether these messages have been broadcast and, if so, with what frequency, is unknown. Defendant's Amended Answers, supra, No. 74(d).

 Plaintiffs claim jurisdiction over Leader Dogs under the Pennsylvania long-arm statute which may be applied in accordance with Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(e) so long as consistent with "traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice." International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316, 90 L. Ed. 95, 66 S. Ct. 154 (1945); see, Koenig v. International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, 284 Pa. Super. 558, 566, 426 A.2d 635, 639 (1980).

 In determining whether long-arm jurisdiction may be exercised in a particular case, we must follow a two-step process. First, we determine whether the cause of action arises from defendant's activities within the forum state. If so, under 42 Pa. C.S.A. § 5322, plaintiff need show only minimum contacts of the defendant with the forum. Id, § 5322(b); see, Schwilm v. Holbrook, 661 F.2d 12, 14 (3d Cir. 1981); Union National Bank of Pittsburgh v. L.D. Pankey Institute, 284 Pa. Super. 537, 542, 426 A.2d 624, 627 (1980). Pennsylvania case law evaluates minimum contacts under the three-part test formulated in Proctor & Schwartz, Inc. v. Cleveland Lumber Co., 228 Pa. Super. 12, 19, 323 A.2d 11, 15 (1974). Second, if the claim is not forum-related, plaintiffs must show that the defendant corporation carries on "a continuous and systematic part of its general business within this Commonwealth." 42 Pa. C.S.A. § 5301(a)(2)(iii); see, Schwilm, supra at 14; Union National Bank, 284 Pa. Super. at 542, 426 A.2d at 627; Goff v. Armbrecht Motor Truck Sales, Inc., 284 Pa. Super. 544, 549, 426 A.2d 628, 630 (1980); Koenig, 284 Pa. Super. at 568, 426 A.2d at 640.

 Plaintiffs' tort and contract claims do not arise from defendants activities in this forum. Plaintiffs admit that the cause of action arose in Michigan; Plaintiffs' Reply to Defendant's Motion to Transfer, para. 3. Indeed, their tort claims assert that Mrs. Schmidt's injury was the proximate result of Leader Dogs' negligence while under its care in Michigan. Complaint, Counts I and V. Any pain and suffering experienced by Mrs. Schmidt after her return to Pennsylvania also would not constitute ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.