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It's Intoxicating, Inc v. Maritim Hotelgesellschft

August 27, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Caputo


Presently before the Court are motions to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint filed by Defendants Maritim Hotelgesellschft, mbH ("Maritim") (Doc. 9) and Daniela Zimmer ("Zimmer"). (Doc. 14.) Both Defendants argue that the Complaint should be dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction, improper venue, and/or failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Because Plaintiff has failed to meet its burden of demonstrating that the Court may exercise personal jurisdiction over Maritim and Zimmer, Defendants' motions to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction will be granted.

I. Background

The facts as alleged in the Complaint are as follows: Plaintiff It's Intoxicating, Inc. ("It's Intoxicating") is a Pennsylvania corporation with a business address in Forty-Fort, Pennsylvania. (Compl., ¶ 2.) It's Intoxicating is in the business of supplying cosmetic goods. (Id. at ¶ 5.)

Maritim is a German company with an address in Bad Salzuflen, Germany. (Id. at ¶ 3.) Maritim owns and operates approximately thirty-eight (38) hotels. (Id. at ¶ 6.) Zimmer is an adult individual who resides in Berlin, Germany. (Id. at ¶ 4.) Zimmer acted as an agent for Maritim. (Id. at ¶ 13.)

Prior to March 2, 2008, Plaintiff and Maritim entered into contracts whereby Plaintiff would supply Maritim with requested cosmetic goods in exchange for payment. (Id. at ¶ 7.) Pursuant to the contracts and Maritim's request, on or about March 2, 2008 and April 3, 2008, Plaintiff delivered supplies of cosmetic goods to Maritim. (Id. at ¶ 8.) Maritim accepted and acknowledged receipt of the goods. (Id. at ¶ 9.) The outstanding contract price for the delivered goods is $120,000.00. (Id. at ¶ 10.) Maritim, however, has failed to make payment of the balance to It's Intoxicating. (Id. at ¶ 11.)

Zimmer, as an agent for Maritim, was involved in communications with It's Intoxicating related to contract formation, as well as the order and delivery of cosmetic supplies. (Id. at ¶¶ 12-13.) To any extent Maritim has given an explanation to It's Intoxicating for failure to pay the outstanding balance, Maritim has indicated that it previously paid Zimmer. (Id. at ¶ 14.) Both Defendants, however, have refused to provide further explanation to It's Intoxicating as to the reason for non-payment. (Id. at ¶ 15.)

As a result of the foregoing events, It's Intoxicating commenced this action against Maritim and Zimmer on December 26, 2011. (Compl.) Plaintiff asserts that the acts of Defendants constitute fraud, breach of contract, and/or unjust enrichment. (Id. at ¶ 16-18.) In addition, It's Intoxicating asserts a claim for conversion against Zimmer. (Id. at ¶ 20.) On May 11, 2012, Maritim filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint. (Doc. 9.) And, on June 20, 2012, Zimmer moved to dismiss the Complaint. (Doc. 14.) Now, as both motions have been fully briefed, they are ripe for disposition.

II. Discussion

A. Personal Jurisdiction

1. Legal Standard

While the Court can accept a plaintiff's allegations regarding jurisdiction as true for purposes of the motions to dismiss, "once the defendant raises the question of personal jurisdiction, the plaintiff bears the burden to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, facts sufficient to establish personal jurisdiction." Carteret Sav. Bank, FA v. Shushan, 954 F.2d 141, 147 (3d Cir. 1992) (internal citation omitted).

District courts are permitted to exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident to the extent allowed under the laws of the state where the district court sits. Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(e); Pennzoil Prods. Co. v. Colelli & Assoc., Inc., 149 F.3d 197, 200 (3d Cir. 1998). Pennsylvania's long-arm statute, 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 5322, "permits Pennsylvania courts to exercise personal jurisdiction over nonresident defendants 'to the constitutional limits of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.'" Mellon Bank (East) PSFS, Nat'l Ass'n v. Farino, 960 F.2d 1217, 1221 (3d Cir. 1992).

Such due process requires that an out-of-state defendant "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.'" Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316, 66 S. Ct. 154, 90 L. Ed. 95 (1945) (quoting Milliken v. Meyer, 311 U.S. 457, 463, 61 S. Ct. 339, 85 L. Ed. 278 (1940)); see also Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations v. Brown, ---- U.S. ----, 131 S. Ct. 2846, 2853, 180 L. Ed. 2d 796 (2011) (affirming that "[t]he canonical opinion in this area remains International Shoe"). Due process also requires some voluntary action by the defendant; this action serves as "fair warning that a particular activity may subject [it] to the jurisdiction of a foreign sovereign." Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, ...

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