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Liberty Surplus Insurance Corp v. Axa Insurance Co.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

June 26, 2018

LIBERTY SURPLUS INSURANCE CORPORATION,
v.
AXA INSURANCE COMPANY and AXA CORPORATE SOLUTIONS ASSURANCE, S.A., et al.

          MEMORANDUM

         Plaintiff, Liberty Surplus Insurance Corporation, has brought this action seeking a declaration that losses sustained by one of its insured are covered by policies issued by AXA Insurance Company (“AXA US”) and AXA Corporate Solutions Assurance, S.A. (“AXA CS”). Before me is AXA CS's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and improper forum pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2), 12(b)(3), and 12(b)(6) and Plaintiff's response. I have also considered the supplemental filings submitted after the completion of jurisdictional discovery.[1] For the reasons that follow, AXA CS's motion will be granted.

         I. FACTS[2]

         Ardagh U.S. is one of a family of companies whose parent, Ardagh Global, is based in Luxemburg. AXA CS issued a policy to Ardagh Global providing global excess coverage above local, primary policies.[3] This policy covered Ardagh Global's subsidiary companies including Ardagh US.

         Ardagh U.S. is a Delaware corporation headquartered in Pennsylvania that manufactures metal containers. In the course of its business, Ardagh U.S. provided defective cans to a company that sold tuna. As a result of the defect, the product had to be recalled causing heavy losses to the tuna company and thus to Ardagh US.

         Liberty Surplus had issued a product recall insurance policy to Ardagh US.[4] AXA U.S. had issued a policy for commercial liability as well as a commercial liability umbrella policy to Ardagh US.[3] Ardagh U.S. made a claim to Liberty Surplus, which acknowledged coverage and paid an amount in excess of $75, 000. Ardagh U.S. also forwarded a claim to AXA U.S. which denied coverage based on exclusions in its policy.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. PERSONAL JURISDICTION

         I may exercise personal jurisdiction over AXA CS, a non-resident defendant, to the extent provided by Pennsylvania law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(k)(1)(A). Under Pennsylvania's long-arm statute, jurisdiction shall extend “to all persons . . . to the fullest extent allowed under the Constitution of the United States and may be based on the most minimum contact with [Pennsylvania] allowed under the Constitution of the United States. 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). A “defendant's conduct and connection with the forum state [must be] such that he should reasonably anticipate being haled into court there.” World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 297 (1980). Here, AXA CS argues that this court lacks personal jurisdiction because it has no connection with Pennsylvania and could not have foreseen that it would be forced to litigate in a Pennsylvania court.

         Personal jurisdiction may be based on either some from of consent to personal jurisdiction, such as a contract forum selection clause, or defendant's contacts with the forum. Synthes, Inc. v. Emerge Medical, Inc., 887 F.Supp.2d 598, 606 (E.D. Pa. 2012). There are two types of personal jurisdiction founded on a defendant's contact with this forum, general and specific.

         AXA CS claims that it does not have the continuous or systematic contacts with Pennsylvania to justify the exercise of general jurisdiction and did not have contacts in Pennsylvania pertaining to this case to satisfy specific jurisdiction. In addition, AXA CS contends that I lack personal jurisdiction because a forum selection clause governs and selects Ireland as the forum.

         1. General Jurisdiction

         General 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, 571 U.S. 117, 139 (2014) (quoting Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 919 (2011)). That is not the case here. Although it is an eligible surplus lines insurer and may have had sporadic contacts in Pennsylvania, AXA CS has “obtained no licenses, registrations, or authorizations in or from the state of Pennsylvania.” See Def.'s Reply Mem. at 6 (citing Mody Cert., Ex. 1 at 12). AXA CS is not a foreign corporation authorized to do business in Pennsylvania, is not a citizen of Pennsylvania, does not maintain a principal place of business here, nor does it have the requisite “continuous and systematic” affiliations required for general jurisdiction. Daimler AG, 571 U.S. at 139. As a result, I conclude Liberty Surplus has failed to establish general jurisdiction.

         2. Specific Jurisdiction

         Specific jurisdiction over an out-of-state defendant can be established when a defendant “purposefully avails itself of the privilege of conducting activities in the forum State, thus invoking the benefits and protections of its laws.” J. McIntyre Machinery, Ltd. v. Nicastro, 564 U.S. 873, 881-882 (2011). Here, Liberty Surplus must show that AXA CS's conduct in this matter was ...


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