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Bartash Printing, Inc. v. Mortgage Press

May 28, 2009

BARTASH PRINTING, INC., PLAINTIFF
v.
THE MORTGAGE PRESS, LTD., DEFENDANT



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

MEMORANDUM

A New York corporation who contracted with a Pennsylvania corporation moves to dismiss a suit arising from that agreement for lack of personal jurisdiction and improper venue, pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) and (b)(3) . For the reasons that follow, I will deny the motion.

I. Background

Bartash Printing, Inc. (Bartash) is a Pennsylvania corporation with its principal place of business in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Compl. ¶ 1.) The Mortgage Press, Ltd. (Mortgage Press) is a New York corporation with its principal place of business in Wantagh, New York. (Id. ¶ 2.) Mortgage Press has no physical presence in Pennsylvania. (Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss ¶ 5 (Document #3).)

On or around January 2006, Bartash began to perform printing services for Mortgage Press.*fn1 (Compl. ¶ 5.) This included printing, mailing and delivering the publications. (Id.) All printing was performed on Bartash's premises in Pennsylvania. (Pl.'s Opp'n Mem. at 3.) Mortgage Press would send an electronic version of each publication as well as a mailing list. (Id. at 3--4.)

On June 23, 2006, Michael Karff, a Bartash sales representative, met with three Mortgage Press representatives at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. (Karf Aff. ¶ 3, Apr. 9, 2009.) The Mortgage Press representatives were in Philadelphia to attend a conference of the National Association of Mortgage Brokers and requested the meeting with Bartash. (Id. ¶¶ 3, 5.) The parties discussed printing issues, and Mr. Karff delivered copies of Mortgage Press' publications for the company to distribute at the conference. (Id. ¶ 3.)

Payment was to be pursuant to the terms of Bartash's standard form invoices. (Compl. ¶ 6.) Edward C. Yucis, general manager at Bartash, attests that several payments were made and mailed to Bartash's Philadelphia address. (Yucis Aff. ¶ 17, Apr. 9, 2009.) Approximately 110 invoices, however, remain outstanding.*fn2 (Compl. ¶ 8.) As of January 27, 2009, the amount owed to Bartash was "$128,136.59, plus interest at the rate of 18% per annum." (Id. ¶ 12.)

II. Applicable Law

A. Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction

Under Rule 12(b)(2), the burden is on the plaintiff to prove that jurisdiction exists over the defendant in the forum state. IMO Indus., Inc. v. Kiekert AG, 155 F.3d 254, 257 (3d Cir. 1998). A court must construe all facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff in deciding if personal jurisdiction exists. Pinker v. Roche Holdings Ltd., 292 F.3d 361, 368 (3d Cir. 2002). "At no point may a plaintiff rely on the bare pleadings alone in order to withstand a defendant's Rule 12(b)(2) motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction; once the motion is made, the plaintiff must respond with actual proofs not mere allegations." Patterson v. Federal Bureau of Investigation, 893 F.2d 595, 603-04 (3d Cir. 1990).

Rule 4(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure authorizes a district court to exercise personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant to the extent allowed by the long-arm statute of the state in which the court sits. Provident Nat'l Bank v. Cal. Fed. Sav. and Loan Ass'n, 819 F.2d 434, 436 (3d Cir. 1987). Pennsylvania's long-arm statute establishes personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant to the fullest extent permitted by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Remick v. Manfredy, 238 F.3d 248, 255 (3d Cir. 2001); see also 42 PA. CONS. STAT. ANN. § 5322(b) (2008). This inquiry under the Due Process Clause requires analyzing the relationship between the defendant, the forum, and the litigation. Shaffer v. Heitner, 433 U.S. 186, 204 (1977).

Personal jurisdiction may be exercised under two separate theories: general jurisdiction and specific jurisdiction. General jurisdiction exists where a defendant has had continuous and systematic contacts with the forum state. See Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 416 (1984). Specific jurisdiction exists where the plaintiff's cause of action arises out of the defendant's contacts with the forum state. World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 297 (1980).

The constitutional test for specific jurisdiction consists of two parts. First, the defendant must have had constitutionally sufficient "minimum contacts" with the forum state. Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 474 (1985) (citing Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945)). The inquiry is focused on whether the defendant has "purposefully avail[ed] itself of the privilege of conducting activities within the forum State, thus invoking the benefits and protections of its laws." Burger King, 471 U.S. at 475 (quoting Hanson v. Denckla, 357 U.S. 235, 253 (1958)); see also World-Wide, 444 U.S. at 297 (stating that the contacts should be of a degree and quality that the defendant "should reasonably anticipate being haled into court there").

If the defendant's contacts are constitutionally sufficient, the inquiry shifts to considering whether exercising jurisdiction comports with "traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice." Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 320 (1945). The court should consider "the burden on the defendant," "the forum State's interest in adjudicating the dispute," "the plaintiff's interest in obtaining convenient and effective relief," "the interstate judicial system's interest in obtaining the most efficient resolution of controversies; and the ...


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