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Rita Schiavone Wilson v. Riu Hotels & Resorts (Riusa Ii

July 29, 2011

RITA SCHIAVONE WILSON,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
RIU HOTELS & RESORTS (RIUSA II, S.A.), DEFENDANT.



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

MEMORANDUM ON MOTION TO DISMISS

I. Introduction

On December 7, 2010, Plaintiff Rita Schiavone Wilson ("Plaintiff") instituted an action against Defendant, RIU Hotels & Resorts,*fn1 to recover damages for personal injuries she allegedly sustained as the result of a "slip and fall" on Defendant's premises in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. (Compl., ECF No. 1.) Presently before this Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss for Improper Service and Lack of Personal Jurisdiction.*fn2 (Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 10.) For the reasons discussed below, the Court will grant the Motion.

II. Factual Background and Procedural History

The Court must construe the facts in the light most favorable to Plaintiff in ruling on a 12(b)(2) motion. Plaintiff is a citizen of Pennsylvania. (Compl. ¶ 1.) Defendant Riusa II is a foreign corporation, headquartered in Mallorca, Spain. (Id. ¶ 2.) Riusa II owns and manages hotel and resort properties, including Riu Palace Cabo San Lucas Hotel ("Riu Palace"), located in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, where the incident precipitating the instant action took place. (Id. ¶¶ 4, 9.)

Ms. Wilson asserts in her brief that she booked a vacation at Riu Palace online, through a website operated by travel agency Apple Vacations. (Pl.'s Resp. Br., ECF No. 12, at 2.) She checked in at Riu Palace on December 7, 2008.

A few days later, on December 11, Ms. Wilson slipped and fell in the bathtub/shower in her hotel room. (Compl. ¶ 8.) As a result of the fall, Ms. Wilson injured her ribcage, lower back, right hip, and leg. (Id. ¶ 16.) Ms. Wilson contends that Riusa II was negligent in creating or allowing a slippery and dangerous condition to exist in the bathtub/shower of her hotel room. (Id. ¶ 15.) She brought this premises liability claim against Riusa II on December 7, 2010.

On May 2, 2011, Defendant filed the instant Motion to Dismiss for Improper Service and Lack of Personal Jurisdiction. Defendant filed two Affidavits of Marta Cerdan Bonnemaison, Associate General Counsel for Riusa II, in support of its motion.*fn3 (ECF No. 10-1.) Plaintiff filed a response brief in opposition to the Motion on May 20, 2011. Plaintiff did not submit any supporting affidavits. Defendant submitted a reply brief in further support of its motion on April 20, 2011. (Def.'s Reply Br., ECF No. 14.)

III. Basis of Federal Jurisdiction

This Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332 because the matter in controversy exceeds $75,000, exclusive of interests and costs, and the parties are citizens of different states. Plaintiff is a citizen of Pennsylvania and Defendant is a Spanish corporation with headquarters in Mallorca, Spain. (Compl. ¶¶1,2.)

IV. Parties' Contentions

Defendant contends that this Court lacks personal jurisdiction over it as a nonresident corporation with limited Pennsylvania contacts, and that Plaintiff has not satisfied her burden of establishing the requisite jurisdictional facts in this case. (Mot. to Dismiss at 5-8.) Riusa II posits that there is no basis for specific jurisdiction because Plaintiff's claim does not arise from any activities in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; rather, it is based on Plaintiff's slip and fall in Mexico. (Id. at 7.) Riusa II also argues that it is a foreign company targeting international clientele, and that the company has not engaged in continuous and systematic activities in Pennsylvania sufficient to warrant the exercise of general jurisdiction. (Id. at 3, 9.)

Plaintiff responds that Riusa II has met the minimum threshold of contact with Pennsylvania to permit this Court to exercise specific personal jurisdiction. (Pl.'s Resp. Br. at 5.) She contends that this Court has personal jurisdiction over Riusa II because Defendant deliberately targeted Pennsylvania in marketing Riu Palace, one of its hotels. (Id. at 7.) Plaintiff cites three jurisdictional contacts which she maintains establish jurisdiction: Defendant's distribution of brochures, which include a toll-free telephone number, to travel agencies within Pennsylvania; Defendant's provision of marketing materials to travel agency Apple Vacations for use on its website; and Defendant's maintenance of a website (www.riu.com), accessible to Pennsylvania residents. (Id. at 6-7.) Plaintiff argues that these contacts are a but-for cause of her injuries. (Id. at 7.) Further, she maintains that because Riusa II is unable to present a compelling case that litigation in the state would be unreasonable and unfair, this Court can maintain the present action. (Id. at 8.) Plaintiff implies that general jurisdiction also exists over Riusa II by asserting that the company engaged in systematic and continuous contact with the Commonwealth. (Id. at 5.)

Riusa II counters Plaintiff's argument that Defendant deliberately targeted the Commonwealth by asserting that the contacts cited by the Plaintiff were in fact directed more generally towards United States, and not towards Pennsylvania in particular. (Def.'s Reply Br. at 2.) Further, Riusa II maintains that marketing activities of travel agencies ...


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