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Farber v. Tennant Truck Lines, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

February 9, 2015

NICOLAS S. FARBER; JOY MEREDITH MAGEE; SUSAN FARBER; and JOHN LEWIS FARBER, Plaintiffs,
v.
TENNANT TRUCK LINES, INC., and SCOTT A. McMEEN, Defendants

For NICOLAS S. FARBER, Plaintiff: JAMES C. HAGGERTY, LEAD ATTORNEY, HAGGERTY GOLDBERG SCHLEIFER & KUPERSMITH PC, PHILADELPHIA, PA; SUZANNE TIGHE, Haggerty, Goldberg, Schleifer & Kupersmith, Philadelphia, PA.

For JOY MEREDITH MAGEE, H/W, SUSAN FARBER, JOHN LEWIS FARBER, Plaintiffs: JAMES C. HAGGERTY, LEAD ATTORNEY, HAGGERTY GOLDBERG SCHLEIFER & KUPERSMITH PC, PHILADELPHIA, PA.

For TENNANT TRUCK LINES, INC., SCOTT A. MCMEEN, Defendants: LAURENCE I. GROSS, SALMON RICCHEZZA SINGER & TURCHI LLP, PHILADELPHIA, PA.

OPINION

WENDY BEETLESTONE, J.

Before the Court are the Defendants Tennant Truck Lines Inc. (" Tennant" ) and Scott McMeen's Motions brought pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2) and 12(b)(3) to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction and Improper Venue, or in the Alternative, Motions to Transfer Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), ECF Nos. 3 & 13; and the Plaintiff's responses in opposition thereto, ECF Nos. 7, 10, and 16.

This case concerns the impact of two recent United States Supreme Court decisions, Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 546 U.S. __, 131 S.Ct. 2846, 180 L.Ed.2d 796 (2011), and Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S.Ct. 746, 187 L.Ed.2d 624 (2014), on a federal court's authority to exercise general jurisdiction over a nonresident corporate defendant, consistent with the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. For the reasons that follow, both Defendants' motions to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction will be granted and the other motions will be denied.

I. FACTUAL HISTORY AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

According to the allegations in the Complaint, this case arises out of a June 10, 2013, automobile accident that occurred on Interstate 80 in Colona, Illinois, when a tractor trailer operated by Defendant Scott McMeen in the course of his employment for Defendant Tennant Truck Lines, Inc. crossed the median into the oncoming lane of traffic and collided with the rental vehicle in which the Plaintiffs Nicolas Farber and Susan Farber were passengers, causing them injuries. See ECF No. 1. The Plaintiffs involved in the accident, together with their spouses, filed a personal injury suit in this Court on August 29, 2014, alleging diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Id. On September 23, 2014, Tennant--the only defendant who had at that time been served--moved to dismiss the case for lack of personal jurisdiction and improper venue, or in the alternative, to transfer the case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). See ECF No. 3. Upon the Plaintiffs' request, the court granted limited jurisdictional discovery, and the Plaintiffs filed a supplemental response on November 26, 2014. ECF Nos. 9-10. After Mr. McMeen was served, he also filed a motion to dismiss on the same grounds as Tennant, on December 19, 2014. ECF No. 13. After a second round of jurisdictional discovery, the Plaintiffs filed a response to Mr. McMeen's motion. ECF No. 23.

In essence, the Defendants argue that a court sitting in Pennsylvania cannot exercise either general or specific personal jurisdiction over Tennant, an entity incorporated in Illinois with its principal place of business in Illinois, or Mr. McMeen, an Illinois resident who was employed by Tennant, based on an accident that occurred in Illinois. See ECF Nos. 3 & 13. In response, the Plaintiffs argue that, based on Tennant's history of operations in Pennsylvania, its contacts rise to a sufficient level for a federal court in Pennsylvania to exercise general jurisdiction over Tennant. ECF No. 10. The Plaintiffs also argue that Mr. McMeen's driving history through Pennsylvania mandates that Pennsylvania courts can properly exercise general jurisdiction over him, as well. ECF No. 16. The Plaintiffs did not address the Defendants' specific jurisdiction arguments in their response to either motion to dismiss, so the Court will not address them here. See Smith v. Nat'l Flood Ins. Program, 156 F.Supp.2d 520, 522 (E.D. Pa. 2001).

A. Jurisdictional Facts Applying to Tennant

In its supplemental response following jurisdictional discovery of Tennant, the Plaintiffs provided the following facts in support of their claim of general jurisdiction over Tennant:

(1) Tennant completed over 4600 deliveries and pick-ups in Pennsylvania in the years 2010-14;
(2) Tennant earned between $878,609 and $1,621,525 in revenue in Pennsylvania in the years 2010-13, representing approximately 2.77% to 3.44% of its total revenue;
(3) Tennant's vehicles traveled between 381,610 and 636,311 miles in Pennsylvania in the years 2010-14;
(4) Tennant drivers purchased between 68,751 and 103,848 gallons of gas in Pennsylvania in the years 2010-14;
(5) Tennant made payments totaling over $1.7 million to Pennsylvania-based carriers in the years 2010-14;
(6) Tennant made payments totaling over $517,000 for " other Pennsylvania payments" in the years 2010-14;
(7) At the time of the accident, Tennant employed 3 individuals based in Pennsylvania, who were permitted to garage Tennant's vehicles during their home time (approximately 34 hours every two weeks);
(8) Tennant withheld $7,156.52 in Pennsylvania State Payroll Withholding Tax in the years 2010-14;
(9) Tennant filed a Pennsylvania RCT-101 Return Summary (Corporate Tax Report), required for all Pennsylvania S Corporations and LLCs conducting business in Pennsylvania, in each year 2010-13, and paid $622 in corporate taxes;
(10) Tennant's automobile insurance policies provide coverage in accordance with Pennsylvania law; and
(11) Tennant's workers' compensation policies provided coverage in accordance with Pennsylvania law.

ECF No. 10 at 2-5. In its Motion to Dismiss, Tennant provided the following jurisdictional facts, based on the affidavit of Sandra R. Ingle, its Vice President of Safety:

(1) Tennant is an Illinois corporation with its principal place of business in Colona, Illinois, that provides trucking services to the Mid-Atlantic, Southeastern, and Midwestern United States;
(2) Tennant has terminals in Augusta, Georgia, and Baltimore, Maryland, and a shipping lot in Wichita, Kansas;
(3) Tennant has no place of business, terminals, or shipping lots in Pennsylvania;
(4) Tennant is not incorporated, organized, or existing under the laws of Pennsylvania;
(5) Tennant does not have any offices, places of business, or bank accounts in Pennsylvania;
(6) Tennant does not own real property in Pennsylvania or maintain any mailing addresses or telephone ...

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