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Gene Simons and v. Arcan

March 27, 2013


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


Plaintiffs, Gene and Maria Simons, husband and wife, filed a Complaint in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas alleging negligence, strict liability, breach of warranty, and loss of consortium against Arcan, Inc. ("Arcan" or "Defendant"), a South Carolina corporation that dissolved in 2010. Plaintiffs allege that Mr. Simons was injured when a machine manufactured by Arcan malfunctioned. Arcan filed a motion to remove this case on March 23, 2012. On April 18, 2012, Arcan filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2). The Court permitted jurisdictional discovery. (Doc. No. 6). For the reasons set below, I will deny Defendant's motion.


At the time of his injury, Mr. Simons was employed as an electrician and maintenance worker for Seal Air-Cryoval, located in Reading, Pennsylvania. (Compl. ¶ 7). On May 3, 2011, Mr. Simons was assigned to work with an Arcan Heavy-Duty Hydraulic Shop Press Model 20-Ton Air/Hydraulic Bottle Jack Press. (Compl. ¶ 19).

While Mr. Simons was using the machine it failed and a "work piece" was ejected from it, striking Mr. Simons in the face and causing serious injuries. (Compl. ¶ 19).

The machine was allegedly manufactured by Arcan and either shipped directly or through "stream of commerce" to Seal Air-Cryoval prior to the incident. (Compl. ¶ 11). Arcan was a South Carolina-based corporation which designed, manufactured, and supplied "hydraulic systems and equipment and supplies." (Compl. ¶ 3). Arcan would generally manufacture the presses and supply various other tools, products, and equipment primarily to the automotive industry. (Crowley*fn1 Dep. 18, June 7, 2012). Arcan was dissolved on July 14, 2010. (Def.'s Mot. Dismiss Ex. C).

Arcan maintained computerized sales records beginning in 2004.*fn2 (Crowley Dep. 22:20--24:9). These records showed over 300 shipments of Arcan's products into Pennsylvania between 2004 and 2009. (Crowley Dep. 33:19--35:10). However, Arcan did not have a record of a sale or shipment to Seal Air-Cryoval. (Crowley Dep. 88:6-- 89:7). Arcan had an ongoing sales relationship with Pennsylvania-based retailers, including Pep Boys and the Eastwood Company, in the relevant time period. (Crowley Dep. 44:1 --46:7, 68:3--69:23). Arcan also had an engagement with Marc Alan Autoreps, an entity that solicited sales to Pennsylvania-based retailers on Arcan's behalf. (Crowley Dep. 36:11--41:14). Additionally, Arcan had relationships with national retailers, including Costco. (Crowley Dep. 73:20--74:7). When dealing with national retailers, Arcan generally, but not always, shipped its products to distribution centers outside Pennsylvania and the retailers then shipped the products to the stores, including stores in Pennsylvania. (Crowley Dep. 74:8--14). The Arcan brand was subsequently sold to PowerStation, LLC, located in Travelers Rest, South Carolina. (Crowley Dep. 14:14-- 14:22).


When a defendant raises a question of personal jurisdiction through a motion to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2), the plaintiff then must present a prima facie case establishing personal jurisdiction. D'Jamoos v. Pilatus Aircraft Ltd., 566 F.3d 94, 102 (3d Cir. 2009). A plaintiff "presents a prima facie case for the exercise of personal jurisdiction by 'establishing with reasonable particularity sufficient contacts between the defendant and the forum state.'"Mellon Bank (East )PSFS, Nat. Ass'n v. Farino, 960 F.2d 1217, 1223 (3d Cir. 1992) (quoting Provident Nat. Bank v. California Fed. Sav & Loan Assoc., 819 F.2d 434 (3d Cir. 1987); cf. Cable/Home Communication Corp. v. Network Productions, Inc., 902 F.2d 829, 855 (11th Cir. 1990) ("A prima facie case [for personal jurisdiction] is established if the plaintiff presents sufficient evidence to defeat a motion for directed verdict.")

A plaintiff cannot "rely on the bare pleadings alone in order to withstand" a 12(b)(2) motion. Time Share Vacation Club v. Atlantic Resorts, 735 F.2d 61, 66 n.9 (3d Cir. 1984). Instead, a plaintiff "must sustain [his] burden of proof in establishing jurisdictional facts through sworn affidavits or other competent evidence," such as deposition testimony. Id.Finally,while personal jurisdiction analysis usually must be conducted separately for each plaintiff, the analysis for loss of consortium claims is identical to that for the underlying claim. O'Connor v. Sandy Lane Hotel Co., Ltd., 496 F.3d 312, 317 n.3 (3d Cir. 2007).


There are two distinct forms of personal jurisdiction: general jurisdiction and specific jurisdiction. The Supreme Court and the Third Circuit have emphasized that general jurisdiction and specific jurisdiction are separate inquiries and not part of a sliding scale. Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 414--16 (1984); O'Connor v. Sandy Lane Hotel Co., 496 F.3d 312, 321 (3d Cir. 2007). Personal jurisdiction may be established through either general or specific jurisdiction. Id.; Shaffer v. Heitner, 433 U.S. 186, 204 (1977).

A federal court can exercise personal jurisdiction to the extent that "a court of general jurisdiction in the state where the district court is located" could exercise such jurisdiction. FED. R. CIV. P. 4(k)(1)(A). Pennsylvania's long-arm statute authorizes personal jurisdiction over foreign corporations to the extent allowed under the federal constitution. 42 Pa. C.S.A. ยง 5322(b); Scoggins v. Scoggins, 555 A.2d 1314, 1319 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1989) ("Section 5322(b) authorizes long-arm jurisdiction in any other situations where the minimum ...

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