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FIELDS v. RAMADA INN

March 4, 1993

MARY FIELDS, Individually and as Administratrix of the Estate of Allegra Mack,
v.
RAMADA INN, INC., et al.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ANITA B. BRODY

 The primary issue presented by defendants' motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2) is twofold: whether the evidence presented by plaintiff, Mary Fields ("Fields"); including brochures published by Ramada Inn, Inc. ("Ramada"), an "800" telephone reservation number and a worldwide directory, (1) adequately shows that non-resident defendants R. Wayne Lowe ("Lowe") d/b/a Lumberton Hotel Associates, Bartlett Johnson ("Johnson") and Summit Hotel Management Company ("Summit") systematically and continuously conduct business in Pennsylvania; or whether (2) Fields' cause of action arose from the defendants' minimum contacts with the forum state, Pennsylvania. Currently pending before me is the defendants, Ramada Inn, Inc. ("Ramada"), Summit, Lumberton Hotel Associates, Lowe and Johnson's motion to dismiss plaintiff's complaint against defendants, Lowe, Summit and Johnson *fn1" pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2) for lack of personal jurisdiction. At an evidentiary hearing held on February 16, 1993, counsel for the parties agreed that Ramada is not contesting this court's assertion of jurisdiction and that the action against Lumberton Hotel Associates is stayed because of bankruptcy proceedings currently ongoing in Georgia. (Evidentiary Hearing Transcript p.4-5).

 PARTIES

 The plaintiff, Mary Fields, is a resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the duly appointed Administratrix of her deceased daughter, Allegra Mack's estate.

 Summit is a Florida corporation with its principal place of business in Indialantic, Florida. (Plaintiff's Complaint para. 6). Summit's business is the management of the Ramada Inn of Lumberton, North Carolina. Summit does not own or operate any hotels or other property in Pennsylvania. (Affidavit of Leon Volker, President of Summit).

 Lowe is the sole general partner of Lumberton Hotel Association, a North Carolina limited partnership that owns and operates the Ramada Inn of Lumberton, North Carolina. (Plaintiff's Complaint para. 10-11; Affidavit of R. Wayne Lowe).

 Johnson was the general manager of the Ramada Inn of Lumberton, North Carolina at the time this cause of action arose. (Plaintiff's Complaint para. 12). At present, Johnson is a resident of Florida. (Affidavit of Bartlett Johnson).

 INTRODUCTION

 This is a wrongful death action based upon diversity jurisdiction. Plaintiff brings this action on her own behalf and on behalf of her deceased daughter, Allegra Mack's, estate. According to plaintiff's complaint and response to the motion to dismiss, in August 1990 Allegra Mack was on a bus trip from Philadelphia to Walt Disney World in Florida with her mother and other members of a church group. On the way to Florida, the church group stopped for a night at the Ramada Inn of Lumberton, North Carolina. Lamb's Travel Center, a Philadelphia travel agency, made these accomodation arrangements and confirmed the church group's reservation by letter.

 After arriving at the hotel, Allegra and some of the other church group members went to the hotel pool. Allegra apparently drowned in the pool and although she received medical attention died six days later.

 At the evidentiary hearing on February 16, 1993, plaintiff presented the following evidence to support her claim that this court's exercise of personal jurisdiction over Lowe, Summit and Johnson is proper: (a) a brochure page which lists an "800" telephone number for Ramada and includes a photograph of the Ramada Inn of Lumberton and a map to the Ramada Inn of Lumberton; (b) Johnson's business card as the general manager of the Ramada Inn of Lumberton; (c) the cover sheet of the Ramada worldwide directory which includes a listing for the Ramada Inn of Lumberton; (d) the Ramada license agreement between Ramada and L. H. Inc. and signed by Lowe as presdent of L.H. Inc.; (e) the 1988 Ramada quality assurance program listing standards of service and rules of operation; (f) the Ramada quality assurance program setting forth construction and refurbishing standards; (g) Ramada license application; (h) the Bentwood Joint Venture agreement; (i) the Lumberton agreement between Bentwood and Lumberton Hotel Associates; and (j) the articles of incorporation for Driftwood Management Co., Inc. with an amendment which changes its name to Summit Hotel Management Co.

 DISCUSSION

 Fields bears the burden of proving that defendants' contacts with this jurisdiction satisfy due process for the purpose of my exercise of personal jurisdiction over them. Wright v. American Standard, Inc., 637 F. Supp. 241 (E.D. Pa. 1985); Time Share Vacation Club v. Atlantic Resorts, Ltd., 735 F.2d 61, 63 (3d Cir. 1984).

 Rule 4(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows this court to exercise personal jurisdiction over non-resident defendants, like Summit, Lowe and Johnson, to the extent permissible under the laws of the forum state, Pennsylvania. Mellon Bank (East) PSFS, N.A. v. Farino, 960 F.2d 1217, 1221 (3d Cir. 1992). Because Summit is a corporation and Lowe and Johnson are individuals, several Pennsylvania statutes are applicable here. First, 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 5322(b), sets forth the overarching jurisdictional standard as it allows this court to exercise jurisdiction over nonresidents "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." This means that this court's exercise of personal jurisdiction over these nonresident defendants is proper so long as there is no violation of due process. Mellon Bank, 960 F.2d at 1221. Second, within the confines of due process, 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 5301(a)(2)(iii) provides that this court may exercise general personal jurisdiction over a corporation when it carries on a "continuous and systematic part of its general business within this Commonwealth." Third, and also within the parameters of due process, 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 5301(a)(1) provides that this court may exercise jurisdiction over individuals if ...


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