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Componentone, L.L.C. v. Componentart

March 12, 2007

COMPONENTONE, L.L.C., PLAINTIFF,
v.
COMPONENTART, INC., COMPONENTART HOLDINGS, INC., STEVE G. ROLUFS, MILJAN BRATICEVIC, JANE DOE, DUSAN BRATICEVIC, JOHN DOE AND CYBERAKT, INC., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: McVerry, J.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER OF COURT

Before the Court for disposition is the MOTION TO DISMISS JOHN DOE (VERNON ROLUFS), JANE DOE (MILENA BRATICEVIC) AND COMPONENTART HOLDINGS, INC. UNDER FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(2) FOR LACK OF PERSONAL JURISDICTION, with brief in support (Document Nos. 95 and 96), the brief in opposition filed by Plaintiff, ComponentOne, L.L.C. (Sealed Document No. 99), and the Reply Brief filed by John Doe (Vernon Rolufs), Jane Doe (Milena Braticevic) and ComponentArt Holdings, Inc. (Document No. 101).

Upon consideration of the affidavits and documentation submitted, as well as the extensive memoranda filed, and the applicable case law, the Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) will be granted.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

For the purpose of a 12(b)(2) motion, the Court must accept the plaintiff's allegations as true and construe disputed facts in favor of the plaintiff. Carteret Savings Bank v. Shushan, 954 F.2d 141, 146 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 506 U.S. 817 (1992). However, when challenged, the burden of establishing personal jurisdiction rests upon the plaintiff. Grand Entertainment Group v. Star Media Sales, 988 F.2d 476, 482 (3d Cir. 1993). "Plaintiff must sustain its burden of proof in establishing jurisdictional facts through sworn affidavits or other competent evidence." Time Share Vacation Club v. Atlantic Resorts, Ltd., 735 F.2d 61, 67 n.9 (3rd Cir. 1984).*fn1 The plaintiff must offer evidence that establishes with reasonable particularity the existence of sufficient contacts between the defendant and the forum state to support jurisdiction. See Carteret, 954 F.2d at 146; Provident Nat. Bank v. California Fed. Sav. & Loan Assoc., 819 F.2d 434 (3d Cir. 1987).

A federal district court "may exercise personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant to the extent permitted by the law of the state in which it sits." Mellon Bank (East) PSFS, N.A. v. DiVeronica Bros., Inc., 983 F.2d 551, 554 (3d Cir. 1993) (citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(e)). The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has provided the following guidance with respect to the relationship between state and federal law:

In brief, to exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant, a federal court . . . must undertake a two-step inquiry. First, the court must apply the relevant state . . . statute to see if it permits the exercise of personal jurisdiction; then, the court must apply the precepts of the Due Process Clause of the Constitution.

IMO Industries, Inc. v. Kiekert AG, 155 F.3d 254, 258-59 (3d Cir. 1998).

The reach of the Pennsylvania long-arm statute is "coextensive" with the due process clause. North Penn Gas v. Corning Natural Gas Co., 897 F.2d 687, 690 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 498 U.S. 847 (1990). The due process clause permits the court to assert personal jurisdictional over a nonresident defendant who has "certain minimum contacts with [the forum] such that the maintenance of [a] suit does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice." Int'l Shoe Co. v. Wash., 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945).

Discussion

A. General Jurisdiction

Personal jurisdiction may be either general or specific. General jurisdiction is implicated when the claim arises from the defendant's non-forum-related activities. Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 411 n.9 (1984). In such a case, the plaintiff "must show significantly more than mere minimum contacts." Provident Nat'l Bank v. Cal. Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n, 819 F.2d 434, 437 (3d Cir. 1987). To assert general jurisdiction, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant's contacts with the forum state were "continuous and substantial." Id.; Gehling v. St. George's Sch. of Med., 773 F.2d 539, 541 (3d Cir. 1985). The threshold for establishing general jurisdiction is very high and requires a showing of "extensive and pervasive" facts demonstrating connections with the forum state. Reliance Steel Prods. Co. v. Watson, Ess. Marshall & Enggas, 675 F.2d 587, 589 (3d Cir. 1982). Federal courts sitting in Pennsylvania consider the following objective criteria in ascertaining the existence of general jurisdiction:

(i) whether defendant is incorporated or licensed to do business in Pennsylvania;

(ii) whether the defendant has ever filed any tax returns with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania;

(iii) whether the defendant files administrative reports with any agency or ...


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