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CRESSWELL v. WALT DISNEY PRODUCTIONS

September 16, 1987

Robert Cresswell, Nancy Cresswell, Kevin Cresswell and Kim Cresswell, Plaintiffs
v.
Walt Disney Productions and its corporate successor, Walt Disney Co., and/or Walt Disney World Co., t/d/b/a Walt Disney World, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: NEALON

 William J. Nealon, Chief Judge.

 In response to the complaint, the defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2), (3), (4), and (5). Briefly, defendants contend that the court lacks personal jurisdiction over them in that they do not have the "minimum contacts" or the "substantial and continuous contacts" required to maintain this action in the Middle District of Pennsylvania. The Motion to Dismiss is now ripe for disposition. For the reasons that follow, the court will deny the defendants' Motion to Dismiss and deny the defendants' request that this action be transferred to the Middle District of Florida.

 BACKGROUND

 On or about June 26, 1985, the plaintiffs were passengers on a monorail system operated by defendants. *fn1" At least one of the monorail cars caught fire and started to burn. The monorail came to a stop between stations. When the car in which they rode began to fill up with smoke, plaintiffs, along with other passengers, climbed onto the monorail car's roof and slid down its rounded front onto a narrow track. Plaintiffs allege that they suffered injuries and damages as a result of the fire, and that the fire was caused by the negligence of the defendants. See document 1 of the record.

 As stated above, defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss for lack of jurisdiction of the person, improper venue, and insufficiency of process and service of process. See document 4 of the record. Defendants argue that they are not qualified to do business in Pennsylvania, pay no taxes to Pennsylvania, and do not have an agent for service of process nor any property, assets, or employees in Pennsylvania. See document 5 of the record, at pp. 2, 5. Thus, defendants argue that they have not engaged in the "continuous and substantial" activities in Pennsylvania needed to maintain the action herein.

 Plaintiffs responded to defendants' Motion to Dismiss by averring that the defendants presently are doing and were doing business in Pennsylvania in 1985 and 1986. See document 8 of the record. Plaintiffs listed some of the activities conducted by defendants in Pennsylvania, including the following: advertising on Pennsylvania television stations and in Pennsylvania newspapers; sending representatives to Philadelphia to encourage Pennsylvania citizens to visit Walt Disney World; conveying Honorary Disney World Citizenship on the Mayor of Philadelphia; selling Walt Disney Company products and services in Pennsylvania; broadcasting the Walt Disney Channel in Pennsylvania; providing a toll-free telephone number for Pennsylvania residents to call; and regularly visiting Keystone Junior College to recruit employees. See id. at pp. 2-4, para. 5, see also document 11 of the record. Plaintiffs argue that these contacts are sufficient to confer in personam jurisdiction over the defendants.

 Defendants then filed a Reply Brief in which they stated as follows:

 
In further support of its Motion to Dismiss, the defendants submit a second affidavit of Sydney L. Jackovitz. Contrary to plaintiffs' assertions, the defendants do not produce, own or control "Walt Disney Magic Kingdom on Ice" show; the defendants do not sell any merchandise or license merchandise to be sold in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; and there is no information to support the allegation that the defendants solicit employees in Pennsylvania.

 DISCUSSION

 When a defendant raises a jurisdictional defense, the plaintiff bears the burden of demonstrating sufficient contacts with the forum state to give the court in personam jurisdiction. Time Share Vacation Club v. Atlantic Resorts, Ltd., 735 F.2d 61, 63 (3d Cir. 1984); Pharmaceutical Group Services, Inc. v. National Pharmacies, Inc., 592 F. Supp. 1247 (E.D. Pa. 1984). At the stage of the proceedings where the factual record consists of only pleadings and affidavits, plaintiff's burden is satisfied by establishing a prima facie case of jurisdiction. Pharmaceutical Group Services, Inc., supra, at 1248 & n.1; Kyle v. Continental Capital Corp., 575 F. Supp. 616, 618-620 (E.D. Pa. 1983). In deciding the issues, the pleadings and affidavits are to be considered in a light most favorable to the plaintiff, with any discrepancies in the versions of the events resolved in plaintiff's favor. Pharmaceutical Group Services, Inc., supra, at 1248; Cottrell v. Zisa, 535 F. Supp. 59, 60 n.* (E.D. Pa. 1982).

 Rule 4(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits a district court to assert personal jurisdiction over a nonresident to the extent allowed under the law of the state where the district court sits. In turn, the Pennsylvania Long Arm Statute, Pa. Const. Stat. Ann. tit. 42, § 5322(b) (Purdon 1981), allows a court to exercise jurisdiction over a person "to the fullest extent allowed under the Constitution of the United States and [it] may be based on the most minimum contacts with this Commonwealth allowed under the Constitution of the United States." Therefore, the reach of the Pennsylvania statute is co-extensive with the due process ...


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