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WILLIAMSON v. CONRAIL
April 26, 1989
ROBERT L. WILLIAMSON, Plaintiff,
CONSOLIDATED RAIL CORPORATION, Defendant, v. NASHVILLE AND ASHLAND CITY RAILROAD COMPANY, STAR TRAILER SERVICES, INC., MILLER TRAILERS, INC., Third Party Defendants
William W. Caldwell, United States District Judge.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: CALDWELL
WILLIAM W. CALDWELL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
This is a personal injury case brought under the Federal Employers' Liability Act, 45 U.S.C. §§ 51-60. The plaintiff sued Consolidated Rail Corporation for injuries he sustained when a trailer he was loading collapsed. Conrail filed a third party complaint against Nashville and Ashland City Railroad Company (NAC), the lessor of the trailer, Miller Trailers, Inc., the trailer's manufacturer, and Star Trailer Services, Inc., which had previously repaired it. Now before the court are the third party defendants' motions to dismiss the third party complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction. Because we find constitutionally inadequate contacts with Pennsylvania, the motions will be granted.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(e) permits a district court to assert personal jurisdiction over a nonresident to the extent allowed under state law. Pennsylvania law provides two bases for personal jurisdiction over a nonresident corporation. The statutory framework tracks the two jurisdictional theories defined by the Supreme Court in International Shoe Company v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 66 S. Ct. 154, 90 L. Ed. 95 (1945). Strick Corporation v. A.J.F. Warehouse Distributors, Inc., 532 F. Supp. 951 (E.D. Pa. 1982). First, 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 5301 provides as follows:
(a) General rule. -- The existence of any of the following relationships between a person and this Commonwealth shall constitute a sufficient basis of jurisdiction to enable the tribunals of this Commonwealth to exercise general personal jurisdiction over such person . . .:
(i) Incorporation under or qualification as a foreign corporation under the laws of this Commonwealth.
(ii) Consent, to the extent authorized by the consent.
(iii) The carrying on of a continuous and systematic part of its general business within this Commonwealth.
(b) Scope of jurisdiction. -- When jurisdiction over a person is based upon this section any cause of action may be asserted against him, whether or not arising from acts enumerated in this section . . . .
Section 5301 follows International Shoe's description of the jurisdictional significance of a corporation's presence in the forum:
The terms "present" or "presence" are used merely to symbolize those activities of the corporation's agent within the state which courts will deem to be sufficient to satisfy the demands of due process . . . . "Presence" in the state in this sense has never been doubted when the activities of the corporation there have not only been continuous and systematic, but also give rise to the liabilities sued on . . . . [In addition] there have been instances in which the continuous corporate operations within a state were thought so ...
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