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Wiedman v. Citywide Banks

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA


January 15, 2009

RICHARD WIEDMAN
v.
CITYWIDE BANKS

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Edmund V. Ludwig, J.

ORDER-MEMORANDUM

AND NOW, this 15th day of January, 2009, "Defendant Citywide Banks' Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction" (docket no. 3) is granted, and this action is dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction over defendant.

Defendant correctly asserts that no basis exists for the exercise of either specific or general personal jurisdiction by this court. The action arises from a loan agreement entered into by the parties in 1997. At that time, plaintiff was a Colorado resident. Defendant is a corporation domiciled and incorporated under the laws of Colorado. It is a local Colorado bank and does not regularly do business in Pennsylvania, and plaintiff does not maintain that it does. Instead, plaintiff's argument in favor personal jurisdiction is based on (1) defendant's constructive knowledge that plaintiff moved to Pennsylvania in 2006; (2) written correspondence and e-mails that plaintiff received from defendant in Pennsylvania in response to his threats of litigation; and (3) defendant's website, which offers its customers national wire transfers and merchant credit card services. Plaintiff reasons that a large check clearinghouse is located in Philadelphia, and defendant must make use of it through the services it offers.

The first two theories cited are insufficient for the exercise of specific jurisdiction in that they do not constitute "manifest behavior intentionally targeted at and focused on the forum." IMO Indus., Inc. v. Kiekert AG, 155 F.3d 254, 265 (3d Cir. 1998) (citations omitted). Merely stating that defendant knew that plaintiff moved to Pennsylvania is not enough for the exercise of specific jurisdiction. Id. As to the correspondence, defendant is correct that the contacts noted by plaintiff do not form the basis of his claim, but were, instead, sent in the context of the legal action. Because the cause of action does not "arise[] from the defendant's forum-related activities," the activities cannot form the basis for the exercise of specific jurisdiction. Vetrotex Certainteed Corp. v. Consol. Fiber Glass Prod. Co., 75 F.3d 147, 151 (3d Cir. 1996)(citations omitted).

Plaintiff urges that defendant's engagement in national wire transfers on behalf of its customers and the issuance of merchant credit card services to its customers are adequate for the exercise of general jurisdiction over defendant. However, the contacts described are not "continuous and systematic." They are not "so substantial and of such a nature as to justify suit against it on causes of action arising from dealings entirely distinct from those activities."*fn1 Barrett v. Catacombs Press, 44 F.Supp.2d 717, 723 (E.D. Pa. 1999). Even if they were, plaintiff offers no evidence that these services actually do bring defendant into contact with Pennsylvania, only his belief that they must. Plaintiff's memorandum, at 7,8.

("Are we to believe that none of its wire transfers or credit card services have been engaged to or from persons in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania?" . . . Are we to believe that no customer of Citywide Banks has cashed a check from their grandmother in New Jersey, or received a payment drawn on an account from Wachovia Bank, or MBNA, or PNC, or any of the other large banks in this Federal District?").*fn2

Plaintiff has not shown an adequate basis for the exercise of specific or general jurisdiction over defendant, and this action, accordingly, must be dismissed.*fn3


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