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NORBERT J. SCHMITT v. SEASPRAY-SHARKLINE (10/01/87)

filed: October 1, 1987.

NORBERT J. SCHMITT, ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF GERARD E. SCHMITT, DECEASED, ON BEHALF OF THE ESTATE OF GERARD E. SCHMITT, DECEASED, AND NORBERT J. SCHMITT, ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF GERARD E. SCHMITT, DECEASED, ON BEHALF OF THE NEXT OF KIN OF GERARD E. SCHMITT, DECEASED, APPELLANT,
v.
SEASPRAY-SHARKLINE, INC., A NEW YORK CORPORATION, AND WILLIAM COHEN, AN INDIVIDUAL AND OLYMPIA POOLS, INC., A PENNSYLVANIA CORPORATION, AND JOHN S. MIHALOV, AN INDIVIDUAL, V. MR. AND MRS. FRED C. FOWLER, AND OCEANIC POOLS, ADDITIONAL DEFENDANTS, V. POOL CITY, INC., AND SEASPRAY-SHARKLINE, INC., A NEW YORK CORPORATION, AS SUCCESSOR IN INTEREST TO SHARKLINE INDUSTRIES, INC., ADDED DEFENDANTS



Appeal from the Order of November 20, 1986, in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Civil Division, No. G.D. 86-6217.

COUNSEL

Edward G. Shoemaker, Pittsburgh, for appellant.

Scott T. Redman, Pittsburgh, for Seaspray-Sharkline, appellees.

Rowley, Johnson and Montgomery, JJ.

Author: Rowley

[ 366 Pa. Super. Page 530]

OPINION OF THE COURT

Appellant Schmitt appeals from an order sustaining the preliminary objections of defendants Seaspray-Sharkline, Inc. and William Cohen. Appellant contests the trial court's order only as to defendant Cohen, whose preliminary objections were sustained for lack of personal jurisdiction.*fn1 The issue is whether the trial court erred in finding that the exercise of personal jurisdiction over Mr. Cohen would be "unreasonable or unjustifiable."

Appellant is the administrator of the Estate of Gerard E. Schmitt who died after suffering quadriplegia as a result of diving injuries. The deceased struck his head upon the bottom of a round, four-foot-deep, outdoor, vinyl-lined swimming pool. Appellant commenced this civil action against the alleged manufacturers and sellers of the pool based upon theories of Products Liability and Negligence.

Appellee Cohen, a New York resident and corporate officer of defendant Seaspray-Sharkline, Inc., argues that there are insufficient contacts with Pennsylvania to sustain in personam jurisdiction over him, and that any contacts

[ 366 Pa. Super. Page 531]

    which he did have with Pennsylvania were strictly within his corporate capacity as an officer of Seaspray-Sharkline, Inc.

Appellant argues that Cohen's contacts are sufficient to sustain jurisdiction because, even if his contacts with Pennsylvania were strictly within his corporate capacity, he had the personal authority, duty, and responsibility to design, manufacture, sell, advertise, and recommend the pools, pool products, and decks involved in this litigation. Appellant further argues that the corporation is a "mere extension and creature of Cohen's person and his individual will" such that Cohen was the designer, manufacturer, seller, advertiser, and recommender of the pools, pool products, and decks.

We find it unnecessary to address the question of whether a finding that Cohen's contacts were within or without his corporate capacity is relevant to the jurisdictional issue. We ...


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