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CALGIFT v. BANK ONE OF EASTERN OHIO

December 16, 1986

Leshore Calgift, Plaintiff
v.
Bank One Of Eastern Ohio, National Association; and The Bank of Virginia, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: NEALON

Chief Judge William J. Nealon

 MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

 Plaintiff, a Pennsylvania corporation with its office in Archbald, Pennsylvania, filed a Complaint on October 6, 1986, against Defendant, Bank One of Eastern Ohio, National Association (Bank One) and Defendant, Bank of Virginia, (Defendants). Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss and a Brief in Support thereof on November 6, 1986. Plaintiff opposed the Motion on November 21, 1986. Defendants filed a Reply Memorandum on November 26, 1986 and, consequently, the matter is ripe for disposition. For the reasons set forth below, defendants' Motion to Dismiss will be granted.

 FACTUAL BACKGROUND

 In the complaint, plaintiff alleges that in March of 1986, it delivered items to Nordic Capital Corporation d/b/a Royal China Company (Nordic). *fn1" At the time of the delivery, plaintiff maintains that it was unaware that Nordic had been in liquidation since approximately November of 1985. Plaintiff asserts that defendants allowed Nordic to continue in operations, while exercising a degree of control over the conduct of Nordic's business. *fn2" When plaintiff sought to retrieve its goods from Nordic, presumably in Ohio, defendants denied plaintiff permission to recover said property. Plaintiff maintains that defendants have committed unwarranted interference with plaintiff's property. In support of its position that venue is proper in this district, plaintiff states that telephone contacts and correspondence were conducted between plaintiff and defendants in the Middle District and products were delivered from plaintiff to defendants.

 Defendant Bank One is an Ohio corporation with its principal place of business in Ohio and Defendant Bank of Virginia is a Virginia corporation with its principal place of business in Virginia. Apparently, Nordic is incorporated under the laws of the state of New York conducting business in Ohio. As such, defendants maintain that this court lacks in personam jurisdiction over defendants. *fn3"

 In support of its position that this court has in personam jurisdiction, plaintiff states that defendants have engaged in a course of conduct causing harm to plaintiff in this district and that defendants through their attorneys have attempted to collect accounts receivable of Nordic in this district. Accordingly, plaintiff relies on these two contacts in support of the assertion of personal jurisdiction in this case.

 DISCUSSION

 Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(e) permits a district court to assert personal jurisdiction over non-resident defendants to the extent allowed under the law of the state where the district court sits. See Time Share Vacation Club v. Atlantic Resorts, Ltd., 735 F.2d 61 (3d Cir. 1984). Accordingly, in this case, jurisdiction must be proper pursuant to Pennsylvania's long arm statute. For purposes of this motion, the court assumes that defendants' conduct brought them within the requirements of Pennsylvania's long arm statute. Because the court finds that defendants do not have sufficient contacts with this forum to meet federal constitutional standards, however, the complaint will be dismissed. See Leshore Calgift Corp. v. Total Graphics, Inc., 668 F. Supp. 412, slip op. at 4 (M.D. Pa. 1986) (Kosik, J.).

 After defendants filed their Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction, the burden shifted to plaintiff to demonstrate that defendants had contacts with Pennsylvania sufficient to give this court jurisdiction. See Stranahan Gear Co., Inc. v. NL Industries, Inc., 800 F.2d 53 (3d Cir. 1986). In determining whether plaintiff sustains its burden, the status of the parties should not be determinative. See Dollar Savings Bank v. First Security Bank of Utah, 746 F.2d 208 (3d Cir. 1984). Accordingly, the court must determine whether plaintiff has met its burden of establishing that this court has in personam jurisdiction over defendants.

 "The central concern of a jurisdictional inquiry is the relationship among the defendant, the forum, and the litigation." Max Daetwyler Corp. v. R. Meyer Corp., 762 F.2d 290, 293 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 474 U.S. 980, 106 S. Ct. 383, 88 L. Ed. 2d 336 (1985). As stated, even if proper under Pennsylvania law, the assertion of jurisdiction over defendants must comport with federal constitutional standards. See Haghighi v. Merchants Bank, North, 667 F. Supp 198, slip op. at 4 (M.D. Pa. 1986) (Nealon, C.J.). Initially, the court must determine whether the claim being pursued against defendants arises from defendants' forum related activities or from non-forum related activities. See Reliance Steel Products Co. v. Watson, Ess, Marshall and Enggas, 675 F.2d 587 (3d Cir. 1982). In this case, plaintiff alleges that defendants caused harm in this forum and that they subjected themselves to jurisdiction by collecting delinquent accounts receivable of Nordic from another party. Accordingly, plaintiff apparently attempts to assert both general and specific jurisdiction over defendants.

 I.

 General jurisdiction exists when the claim does not arise out of or is unrelated to the defendants' contacts with the forum. See Dollar Savings Bank v. First Security Bank of Utah, supra. Unless defendants have a continuous and systematic general business relationship with the forum state, the cause of action must arise from those activities within the state which would give rise to personal jurisdiction. See Helicopteros Nacionales De Colombia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 80 L. Ed. 2d 404, 104 S. Ct. 1868 (1984). In invoking general jurisdiction, plaintiff must demonstrate that defendants maintained "continuous and substantial forum affiliations." See Dollar Savings Bank v. First Security Bank of Utah, supra. Thus, the court must determine whether defendants' attempts to collect delinquent accounts receivable of Nordic from another party, through their attorneys, vests this court with personal jurisdiction over defendants in this unrelated action.

 Plaintiff submits a letter from James W. Ehrman, Esq., on behalf of Defendant Bank One, directing Edward Plottle Co. (Plottle) of Archbald, Pennsylvania, in this district, to make all future payments due Nordic to Bank One. *fn4" See Document 6 of the Record -- Exhibit A. The letter advises Plottle that unless satisfactory payments are made to Defendant Bank of Virginia, acting as Bank One's agent in collecting accounts receivable, collection of the obligation through legal remedies will be pursued. Id. Finally, the letter directs that any questions be directed to Bank of Virginia or ...


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