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LAPEIRE v. VOLKSWAGEN AG

November 2, 1988

JOHN LAPEIRE and NAN F. LAPEIRE
v.
VOLKSWAGEN AG, AUDI OF AMERICA, INC., WORLD-WIDE VOLKSWAGEN CORP. and TRAYNOR MOTORS, INC



The opinion of the court was delivered by: VANARTSDALEN

 DONALD W. VANARTSDALEN, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 Plaintiffs, John Lapeire and Nan F. Lapeire, are residents of Bucks County Pennsylvania, and have brought his action to recover for personal injuries sustained as a result of an alleged spontaneous acceleration of their 1984 Audi 5000S on April 11, 1986. The defendants in this suit are Volkswagen AG, the German manufacturer, Audi of America, Inc., its American subsidiary, World-Wide Volkswagen Corporation (World-Wide), a regional distributor of Audis, and Traynor Motors, Inc., the car dealer who sold the car to the plaintiffs. Defendant World-Wide Volkswagen Corporation has acknowledged that defendants intended to sue them, but have wrongly named them as "World-Wide, Inc." In any event, World-Wide Volkswagen Corporation has acknowledged that it has received service of process, and its counsel has stated that service under the name "World-Wide Volkswagen Corporation" is unnecessary. However, defendant World-Wide has challenged the power of this court to assert personal jurisdiction over it, and thus has filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2). For the reasons stated below, defendant World-Wide Volkswagen's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction will be denied.

 World-Wide is a New York corporation. It is a regional distributor of Audi Motor vehicles and accessories and is in the business of selling and marketing these products in the states of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. These sales by World-Wide are conducted pursuant to an agreement with Volkswagen AG. The dealers serviced by World-Wide ultimately sell vehicles to consumers; World-Wide does not sell any vehicles directly to consumers.

 Plaintiffs purchased their vehicle from Traynor Motors, Inc., a retailer with its principal place of business at 2269 Post Road, Fairfield, Connecticut, on June 12, 1984. At the time of the purchase, Traynor had a reasonable expectation that the vehicle would be operated in Pennsylvania. *fn1"

 A federal district court in a diversity case has personal jurisdiction over a non-consenting, nonresident defendant if a court of the state in which the district court is sitting would have such jurisdiction. Giotis v. Apollo of the Ozarks, Inc., 800 F.2d 660, 664 (7th Cir. 1986). The plaintiff asserts that this court has jurisdiction pursuant to 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. ┬ž 5322. The relevant sections state:

 
(a) General rule. - A tribunal of this Commonwealth may exercise personal jurisdiction over a person (or the personal representative of a deceased individual who would be subject to jurisdiction under this subsection if not deceased) who acts directly or by an agent, as to a cause of action or other matter arising from such person:
 
(1) Transacting any business in this Commonwealth. Without excluding other acts which may constitute transacting business in this Commonwealth, any of the following shall constitute transacting business for the purpose of this paragraph:
 
. . . .
 
(ii) The doing of a single act in this Commonwealth for the purpose of thereby realizing pecuniary benefit or otherwise accomplishing an object with the intention of initiating a series of such acts.
 
. . .
 
(4) Causing harm or tortious us injury in this Commonwealth by an act or omission outside this Commonwealth.
 
(b) Exercise of full constitutional power over nonresidents. - In addition to the provisions of subsection (a) the jurisdiction of the tribunals of this Commonwealth shall extend to all persons who are not within the scope of section 5301 (relating to persons) to the fullest extent allowed under the Constitution of the United States and may be based on the most minimum contact with this Commonwealth allowed under the Constitution of the United States.

 Section 5322(a)(4) provides a basis for jurisdiction in this case since plaintiff alleges that an act or omission outside Pennsylvania caused harm inside Pennsylvania. Also, section 5322(b) establishes an independent basis for jurisdiction because I conclude that the assertion of jurisdiction over World-Wide comports with the due process clause. Therefore, the statutory ...


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