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SURGICAL LASER TECHS. v. C. R. BARD
April 4, 1996
SURGICAL LASER TECHNOLOGIES, INC.,
C. R. BARD, INC., BARD UROLOGICAL DIVISION, TRIMEDYNE, INC.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: DITTER
In its second amended complaint, Surgical Laser Technologies, Inc. (SLT) alleges that C.R. Bard, Inc. (Bard) wrongfully entered into contract negotiations with it in order to extract secret financial and product information. Bard then allegedly conveyed this secret information to SLT's competitor, Trimedyne. Trimedyne also allegedly attempted to sabotage a contract between SLT and its Indian distributor in India. SLT claims that subject matter jurisdiction is based on diversity of citizenship.
Trimedyne has moved for dismissal under Fed.R.Civ.Pro. 12(b)(2). It maintains that there is no basis for personal jurisdiction. For the reasons discussed below I will grant Trimedyne's motion.
A federal court applies the long-arm statute of the state in which it sits. Pennsylvania has authorized its courts to exercise jurisdiction to the maximum extent permitted by the Constitution's Due Process clause. Provident Nat'l Bank v. California Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n, 819 F.2d 434, 436 (3d Cir. 1987). Thus, it is the Due Process clause that provides the relevant limits for this personal jurisdiction inquiry.
The Due Process clause permits the exercise of jurisdiction over non-resident corporate defendants in two distinct situations. First, if the defendant maintains continuous and systematic contacts with the forum state, the court can exercise general jurisdiction. In these situations, the relationship between the plaintiff's claims and the defendant's forum state contacts is irrelevant -- the court can exercise jurisdiction to hear any claim brought against the defendant. Second, if the plaintiff's claims are related to the defendant's activities within the forum state, the defendant has "minimum contacts" with the forum state, and the exercise of jurisdiction comports with traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice, the court can exercise specific jurisdiction. In these situations, the relationship between the plaintiff's claims and the defendant's forum state contacts is critical -- the court can only exercise jurisdiction over the defendant for claims arising out of its activities within the forum state.
In the instant case, SLT alleges
that Trimedyne has the following contacts with Pennsylvania:
1. In 1992, a Trimedyne officer visited SLT in Pennsylvania in order to obtain a license to use certain of SLT's devices. The negotiations were unsuccessful. A Trimedyne officer also placed a phone call to SLT in Pennsylvania.
3. Two Trimedyne employees, though not required to do so, live and work out of their homes in Pennsylvania.
4. Trimedyne paid $ 994 in corporate Pennsylvania sales taxes and sold about $ 50,000 worth of goods in Pennsylvania in 1994.
5. Trimedyne once supplied Bard with a laser system to use in clinical trials in Philadelphia.
On the other side of the scale, it should be noted that Trimedyne is a Nevada corporation with its principal place of business in California; has no agent for service in Pennsylvania; does not own or directly lease any property in Pennsylvania; has no Pennsylvania telephone ...
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