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REV. CLAYTON HEWITT v. EICHELMAN'S SUBARU (04/19/85)

filed: April 19, 1985.

REV. CLAYTON HEWITT, GRACE HEWITT, DARRYL MARTIN AND MICHAEL MARTIN, CO-GUARDIANS OF THE ESTATE OF JOAN H. FORCEY, INCOMPETENT, APPELLANTS,
v.
EICHELMAN'S SUBARU, INC., KRIS J. HOOT, HILLTOWN TOWNSHIP, BUCKS COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, FUJI HEAVY INDUSTRIES, SUBARU OF AMERICA AND PENN JERSEY SUBARU



No. 01816 PHL 83, Appeal from the Order entered June 15, 1983 in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Civil Division, at No. 5395 Nov. Term, 1981.

COUNSEL

Mark C. Schultz, Norristown, for appellants.

William J. Ricci, Philadelphia, for appellees.

Del Sole, Popovich and Hoffman, JJ.

Author: Hoffman

[ 341 Pa. Super. Page 591]

Appellants contend that the lower court erred in declining to exercise jurisdiction over appellee, Fuji Heavy Industries (Fuji). We agree and, accordingly, reverse.

On December 19, 1979, Joan Forcey was severely injured in an automobile accident involving her 1977 Subaru and

[ 341 Pa. Super. Page 592]

    another vehicle. Her guardian*fn1 subsequently instituted this action against appellee, the manufacturer of the car, and others,*fn2 alleging negligence, strict liability in tort, and breach of warranties. Appellee filed a preliminary objection claiming that Pennsylvania courts could not exercise in personam jurisdiction over it. On June 15, 1983, the lower court sustained the preliminary objection and dismissed the complaint against appellee. This appeal by Ms. Forcey's present guardians followed.

The power of a court to exercise in personam jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant turns upon two considerations: (1) jurisdiction must be conferred by the state long-arm statute, and, (2) the exercise of jurisdiction under the statute must meet constitutional standards of due process. Nissley v. JLG Industries, Inc., 306 Pa. Superior Ct. 557, 560-61, 452 A.2d 865, 866-67 (1982). Because the reach of the Pennsylvania long-arm statute extends "to the fullest extent allowed under the Constitution of the United States,"*fn3 the controlling consideration is whether the nonresident defendant had sufficient minimum contacts with this forum to permit the exercise of jurisdiction. See Nissley v. JLG Industries, Inc., supra; Koenig v. International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, 284 Pa. Superior Ct. 558, 426 A.2d 635 (1980). Due process requires that a defendant have "certain minimum contacts with [the forum] such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice." International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316, 66 S.Ct. 154, 158, 90 L.Ed. 95 (1945). Moreover, "the relationship between the defendant and the forum must be such that it is 'reasonable . . . to require [a foreign] corporation to defend

[ 341 Pa. Super. Page 593]

    the particular suit which is brought there.'" World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodsun, 444 U.S. 286, 100 S.Ct. 559, 62 L.Ed.2d 490 (1980), quoting International Shoe Co. v. Washington, supra 326 U.S. at 317, 66 S.Ct. at 158. Further, although forseeability alone is not a sufficient basis for exercising jurisdiction under the due process clause, the Supreme Court has stated that

     the forseeability that is critical to due process analysis is not the mere likelihood that a product will find its way into the forum State. Rather it is that the defendant's conduct and connection with the forum state are such ...


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