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Scott Boyd and Pamela Boyd, H/W v. Allied Properties and Concord Mall

April 15, 2011

SCOTT BOYD AND PAMELA BOYD, H/W, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
ALLIED PROPERTIES AND CONCORD MALL, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM

Plaintiffs Scott and Pamela Boyd bring this action against Defendants Allied Properties and Concord Mall, alleging injuries from a fall sustained at the Concord Mall in Wilmington, Delaware. Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint on two grounds: (1) as to Concord Mall for lack of personal jurisdiction, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2);*fn1 and (2) as to both Defendants due to a pending Delaware state court action arising out of the same incident (the "Delaware Action"), pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). (Dkt. No. 5 ("Motion")). For the reasons set forth below, I will grant Defendants' Motion.

I. BACKGROUND

On November 4, 2010, Plaintiffs filed their Complaint in this matter based on diversity jurisdiction, claiming injuries suffered when Plaintiff Scott Boyd, a patron at Concord Mall, stepped into a hole in the Mall's floor. (Compl. ¶¶ 7-9). Plaintiffs served this Complaint upon Defendants by certified mail on December 14, 2010 in Delaware.

A day after filing this action, Plaintiffs filed an identical action against these same defendants in the Superior Court of the State of Delaware, New Castle County. (Ex. C to Motion.)

Concord Mall is a limited liability corporation existing under the laws of the State of Delaware. Id. ¶ 5.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A. Rule 12(b)(2)

Rule 12(b)(2) provides for dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction. Once a defendant has raised lack of personal jurisdiction as a defense, the burden to prove that jurisdiction exists in the forum state lies with the plaintiff; a court "must accept all of the plaintiff's allegations as true and construe disputed facts in favor of the plaintiff." Pinker v. Roche Holdings Ltd., 292 F.3d 361, 368 (3d Cir. 2002). However, a plaintiff must show "with reasonable particularity" enough contact between the defendant and the forum as to support a prima facie case in favor of the exercise of personal jurisdiction by the forum state. Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 477 (1986); Mellon Bank v. Farino, 960 F.2d 1217, 1223 (3d Cir. 1992). Thus, a Rule 12(b)(2) motion "requires resolution of factual issues outside the pleadings, i.e., whether in personam jurisdiction actually lies." Clark v. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co ., Ltd., 811 F. Supp. 1061, 1064 (M.D. Pa. 1993) (quoting Time Share Vacation Club v. Atlantic Resorts, Ltd., 735 F.2d 61, 66 n.9 (3d Cir. 1984)).

B. Rule 12(b)(6)

In deciding a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), courts must "accept all factual allegations as true, construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief." Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008) (internal quotation and citation omitted). After the Supreme Court's decision in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007), "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, ---U.S. ----, ----, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). This standard, which applies to all civil cases, "asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949; accord Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-211 (3d Cir. 2009) ("All civil complaints must contain more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.") (internal quotation omitted).

II. DISCUSSION

A. Personal Jurisdiction

Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2), Defendants argue that Plaintiffs have failed to properly allege this Court's personal jurisdiction over Concord Mall because Plaintiffs have not alleged sufficient contacts between the Mall and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Under Rule 4(e), this Court is permitted to exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident to the extent allowed under Pennsylvania law; Pennsylvania retains personal jurisdiction over nonresidents to the fullest extent permitted by the United States Constitution. 42 Pa. C.S. § 5322(b). As such, it reaches as far as the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment allows. When analyzing personal jurisdiction under the Due Process Clause, the United States has long applied the "minimum contacts" test. Int'l Shoe Co. v. State of Wash., Office of Unemployment Comp. & Placement, 326 U.S. 310 (1945). The defendant must be shown to have "certain minimum contacts with [the forum] such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend 'traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.' " Id. at 316 (quoting Milliken v. Meyer, 311 U.S. 457, 463 (1940)). ...


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