United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
Karen and Robert Arnold, residents of Pennsylvania, have
filed suit to recover from injuries sustained when Mrs.
Arnold fell off an elevated platform at the Irish Bred Pub in
Montgomery, Alabama. Plaintiffs present a premises liability
claim against Defendants and a loss of consortium claim on
behalf of Mr. Arnold. Before me is Defendants' motion to
dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2). For the reasons discussed,
Defendants' motion will be granted.
August 11, 2014, Karen and Robert Arnold ate dinner at the
Irish Bred Pub. The couple were seated at a table located on
a raised platform that occupied a corner of the dining room.
After finishing dinner, Ms. Arnold stepped off the elevated
platform and fell, injuring herself.
Irish Bred Pub Concepts is a Georgia corporation with a
principal office in Fayetteville, Georgia. It is a
franchising company that does not operate any restaurants.
Irish Bred Concepts has no franchises located in
Pennsylvania. There are currently six licensed franchise
Irish Bred Pub restaurants - four in Georgia and two in
Alabama. Each of these franchises in independently owned. The
franchise location of Plaintiff's fall in Montgomery,
Alabama, is owned by the franchise L&V, LLC, and is not
owned or operated by the Irish Bred Pub Concepts.
Marmol is the president and 50% owner of Irish Bred Pub
Concepts. The company's two shareholders are both
residents of Georgia. It is not incorporated, licensed, or
registered to do business in Pennsylvania.
Bred Pub Concepts maintains a website which provides
information on its franchising opportunities.
plaintiff bears the burden of proving personal jurisdiction
by a preponderance of the evidence. Control Screening LLC
v. Tech. Application & Prod. Co., 687 F.3d 163, 167
(3d Cir. 2012). Under Pennsylvania's long-arm statute, a
district court may assert personal jurisdiction over
nonresidents to the extent permitted by the Due Process
Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. §
5322(b). “The Due Process Clause protects an
individual's liberty interest in not being subject to the
binding judgments of a forum with which he has established no
meaningful ‘contacts, ties, or relations.'”
Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462,
471-472 (1985) (citations omitted). Defendants argue that
this court lacks personal jurisdiction over Defendants
because they have no connection with Pennsylvania and could
not have foreseen that they would be haled into a
Pennsylvania court. Plaintiffs contend that Defendants'
internet website is sufficient to establish personal
are two types of personal jurisdiction, general and specific.
I will consider whether either applies.
jurisdiction may be exercised over a defendant if the
defendant's “‘affiliations with the State are
so continuous and systematic as to render [it] essentially at
home in the forum State.'” Daimler AG v.
Bauman, 134 S.Ct. 746, 761 (2014) (quoting Goodyear
Dunlop Tires Operations v. Brown, 131 S.Ct. 2846, 2851
(2011)) (internal quotations omitted). That is not the case
here. Defendants are not citizens of Pennsylvania, do not
maintain a principal place of business here, nor do they have
the requisite “continuous and systematic”
affiliations required for general jurisdiction. Daimler
AG, 134 S.Ct. at 761.
Plaintiffs argue that there is general jurisdiction through
Defendants' efforts to solicit customers and sell
products in Pennsylvania over the internet, these contacts
are insufficient. These communications do not provide a basis
for a finding of “continuous and systematic”
affiliations. Daimler AG, 134 S.Ct. at 761. Indeed,
Defendants' internet presence would seem to be best
characterized as “passive.” Zippo Mfg, Co. v.
Zippo Dot Com, Inc., 952 F.Supp. 1119, 1124 (W.D. Pa.
1997) (“[a] passive web site that does little more than
make information available to those who are interested in it
is not grounds for the exercise [of] personal
jurisdiction”). The site provides information and links
to current operational ...