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Cynthia A. Croyle, Administratrix of the Estate of v. Larry Hutchison

June 20, 2012

CYNTHIA A. CROYLE, ADMINISTRATRIX OF THE ESTATE OF WALTER E. CORMAN, DECEASED; PLAINTIFF,
v.
LARRY HUTCHISON, AN INDIVIDUAL OUTER BANKS BLUE, L.L.C. T/D/B/A OUTER BANKS BLUE REALTY SERVICE, A NORTH CAROLINA LIMITED
LIABILITY BUSINESS CORPORATION; DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Maureen P. Kelly

ECF No. 11

OPINION AND ORDER

KELLY, Magistrate Judge

On September 21, 2009, Plaintiff's Decedent, Walter E. Corman, tripped and fell on an entrance way mat while a seasonal tenant at property maintained and leased by Defendant Outer Banks Blue, L.L.C. t/d/b/a Outer Banks Blue Realty Service ("Defendant" or "Outer Banks Blue"). Mr. Corman apparently sustained severe injuries that allegedly led to his death.

Plaintiff, Cynthia A. Croyle ("Croyle" or "Plaintiff"), who is Mr. Corman's daughter and the Administratrix of his estate, brought this wrongful death and survival action seeking to recover damages for the losses suffered as a result Mr. Corman's death as well as for the pain and suffering he endured as a result of the accident.

Outer Banks Blue filed a Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) ("the Motion") on September 30, 2011, arguing that the Complaint is properly dismissed as the Court is without personal jurisdiction. ECF No. 11. Plaintiff filed a response to the Motion on December 13, 2011, in which she maintains that jurisdiction is not wanting and alternatively requests that that she be permitted to conduct discovery to develop the facts relevant to the jurisdictional issue.

For the reasons that follow, Defendant's Motion will be granted and Plaintiff's request for leave to conduct discovery will be denied.

I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Once a defendant files a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2), "the plaintiff must "prov[e] by affidavits or other competent evidence that jurisdiction is proper.'" Metcalfe v. Renaissance Marine, Inc., 566 F.3d 324, 330 (3d Cir. 2009), quoting Dayhoff Inc. v. H.J. Heinz Co., 86 F.3d 1287, 1302 (3d Cir. 1996). The plaintiff, however, need only establish "a prima facie case of personal jurisdiction," and is entitled to have the allegations set forth in the complaint taken as true and all factual disputes drawn in his or her favor. Miller Yacht Sales, Inc. v. Smith, 384 F.3d 93, 97 (3d Cir. 2004). The complaint must nevertheless contain "specific facts" rather than vague or conclusory assertions. Marten v. Godwin, 499 F.3d 290, 298 (3d Cir. 2007).

II. DISCUSSION

Under Rule 4(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a federal district court sitting in diversity has personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant only to the extent that the laws of the forum state permit it. Pennsylvania's long-arm statute, 42 Pa. C.S.A. ' 5322(b), provides that a court may exercise personal jurisdiction over non-resident defendants "to the constitutional limits of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment." Remick v. Manfredy, 238 F.3d 248, 255 (3d Cir. 2001).

The due process clause requires: (1) that the defendant have "minimum contacts" with the forum state; and (2) that the exercise of jurisdiction comports with "traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice." Remick, 238 F.3d at 255, quoting International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945). "Minimum contacts must have a basis in 'some act by which the defendant purposefully avails itself of the privilege of conducting activities within the forum State, thus invoking the benefits and protections of its laws.'" Remick, 238 F.3d at 255, quoting Asahi Metal Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Superior Court of California, 480 U.S. 102, 109 (1987).

Personal jurisdiction may be invoked over a non-resident defendant on the basis of either general or specific jurisdiction. General jurisdiction is appropriate when the defendant's contacts with the forum are "continuous and systematic" and when the cause of action "arises from the defendant's non-forum related activities." Vetrotex Certainteed Corp. v. Consolidated Fiber Glass Products Co., 75 F.3d 147, 151 (3d Cir. 1995). In contrast, specific jurisdiction is properly exercised when the plaintiff's cause of action arises from the defendant's forum-related activities, "such that the defendant 'should reasonably anticipate being haled into court there.'" Id., quoting World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 297 (1980). See Remick v. Manfredy, 238 F.3d at 255. See also World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. at 297 ("foreseeability . . . is critical to the due process analysis"). "[S]pecific jurisdiction is not established if the non-resident defendant's conduct in the forum is 'random, isolated or fortuitous.'" Planet Goalie, Inc. v. Monkeysports, Inc., 2011 WL 3876178 at * 3 (M.D. Pa. Sept. 1, 2011), quoting Keeton v. Hustler Magazine, Inc., 465 U.S. 770, 774 (1984).

Here, Plaintiff does not dispute that general jurisdiction over Outer Banks Blue is lacking. Rather, Plaintiff argues only that specific jurisdiction may be exercised over Defendant as Outer Banks Blue has purposefully directed its activities at Pennsylvania. ECF No. 22, p. 2. To support her position, Plaintiff points to the fact that Outer Banks Blue maintains an interactive website on which it posts information about its properties, invites email questions from its users and allows its users to purchase vacation rentals. ...


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