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Planet Goalie, Inc v. Monkeysports

September 1, 2011

PLANET GOALIE, INC.,
PLAINTIFF
v.
MONKEYSPORTS, INC.,
DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: The Honorable Sylvia H. Rambo

MEMORANDUM

Before the court are two pending motions. First, is Defendant Monkeysports, Inc.'s ("Monkeysports") motion to dismiss, or in the alternative change venue, for lack of personal jurisdiction. (Doc. 3.) Second, is Plaintiff Planet Goalie, Inc.'s ("Planet Goalie") motion for discovery. (Doc. 17.) For the reasons that follow, Defendant's motion to change venue will be granted and this case will be transferred to the Central District of California and Plaintiff's motion for discovery will be deemed moot.

I. Background

A. Parties

Plaintiff Planet Goalie is a company that deals in the sale of hockey equipment at the retail level. (Compl. ¶ 6.) Plaintiff is incorporated in Nevada with a principle place of business in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. (Id. ¶ 1.) Defendant Monkeysports is one of the largest retailers of hockey and other sports equipment and is incorporated in California with a principle place of business in Corona, California. (Id. ¶¶ 2, 8.) Plaintiff claims this court has both general and specific jurisdiction over Defendant. (Id. ¶ 4.) For the reasons that follow, the court disagrees.

B. Factual Background

The complaint alleges that while Plaintiff was at a hockey show in Las Vegas, Nevada, the owners of Plaintiff met with representatives from two of the largest manufacturers of ice hockey goalie equipment in the United States: Vaughn Custom Sports ("Vaughn") and Reebok/CCM ("Reebok"). (Id. ¶¶ 7-9.) During that meeting, Plaintiff claims that a contract was entered into with Vaughn, and a potential contract was negotiated with Reebok. (Id. ¶¶ 11, 30-32.) Subsequently, Plaintiff claims that representatives from Monkeysports threatened to decrease business with Vaughn and Reebok if they entered into contracts with Planet Goalie. (Id. ¶¶ 16, 39.) Therefore, Plaintiff claims Defendant engaged in tortious interference with both existing and prospective contractual relations. (Id. Counts I & II.)

Defendant claims that this court lacks both specific and general personal jurisdiction over Defendant, and that the case should therefore be dismissed. In the alternative, Defendant suggests that venue is improper and this case should be transferred to the Central District of California where Defendant is incorporated and has its principle place of business. (Mot. to Dismiss, Doc. 3.) The court agrees that venue here is improper and will transfer this case to the Central District of California.

C. Procedural History

On March 7, 2011, Defendant filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and brief in support. (Docs. 3, 4.) On April 11, 2011, Plaintiff filed a brief in opposition (Doc. 12), to which Defendant replied on April 21, 2011 (Doc. 13).

While this motion was pending, on May 28, 2011, Plaintiff filed a motion for discovery. (Doc. 17.) A brief in support was filed on June 15, 2011. (Doc. 19.) Defendant filed a response on June 23, 2011. (Doc. 20.) Both motions are now ripe for disposition.

II. Legal Standard: 12(b)(2) Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction "Once [a court's jurisdiction] is challenged, the burden rests upon the plaintiff to establish personal jurisdiction." Gen. Elec. Co. v. Deutz Ag., 270 F.3d 144, 150 (3d Cir.2001) (citing Mellon Bank (East) PSFS, Nat'l. Ass'n v. Farino, 960 F.2d 1217, 1223 (3d Cir.1992)). A plaintiff may meet this burden by "establishing with reasonable particularity sufficient contacts between the defendant and the forum state." Mellon Bank, 960 F.2d at 1223 (quoting Provident Nat'l Bank v. Cal. Fed. Sav. & Loan Assoc., 819 F.2d 434, 437 (3d. Cir.1987)). "A court must take 'specific analytical steps' when determining whether it can assert personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant." Accuweather, Inc., v. Total Weather, Inc., 223 F .Supp. 2d 612, 613 (M.D. Pa. 2002) (quoting Pennzoil Prod. Co. v. Colelli & Assocs., Inc., 149 F.3d 197, 200 (3d Cir.1998)).

Personal jurisdiction analysis is more difficult when a defendant's conduct with the forum state is based on internet contacts. "The internet allows businesses and customers to communicate with each other from anywhere in the world. Customers can also place orders from anywhere in the world. Because the internet has no boundaries, a court must consider whether the electronic contacts between the remote party and the party in the forum state are sufficient to satisfy the 'minimum contacts' element of the personal jurisdiction analysis. Hershey Co. v. Pagosa Candy Co., Civ. No. 1:07-1364, 2008 WL 1730538, at *3 (M.D. Pa. 2008) (referencingG. PETER ALBERT, JR., ET AL., INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW IN CYBERSPACE 2006 CUMULATIVE SUPPLEMENT 14-5 (2006)). Courts have addressed this issue, but first, the traditional personal jurisdiction framework will be discussed.

III. Discussion

A. Personal Jurisdiction

A federal district court sitting in Pennsylvania has jurisdiction over non-resident parties to the extent provided by Pennsylvania law. See FED.R.CIV.P. 4(e); see also Mellon Bank, 960 F.2d at 1221. Pennsylvania's long-arm statute allows a court to exercise jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant "to the fullest extent allowed under the Constitution of the United States and may be based upon the most minimum contact with this Commonwealth allowed under the Constitution of the United States." See 42 PA. CONS.STAT. § 5322(b); see also Time Share Vacation Club v. Atlantic Resorts, Ltd., 735 F.2d 61, 63 (3d Cir.1984). Accordingly, the reach of Pennsylvania's long-arm statute is "coextensive with the due process clause of the United States Constitution." Time Share, 735 F.2d at 63. The due process clause of the United States Constitution requires a non-resident defendant to have certain minimum contacts with the forum state in order for a court in that forum to properly exercise personal jurisdiction. World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 291 (1980) (citing Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945)). General jurisdiction may be exercised over a non-resident defendant when the defendant has "continuous and systematic" contacts with the forum state. Int'l Shoe, 326 U.S. at 318. Notably however, "the size of the percentage of defendant's total business represented by its ...


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