United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
American Airlines, Inc. asks this Court to dismiss
Plaintiffs' Complaint or, in the alternative, transfer
this matter to the United Stated District Court for the
Middle District of Pennsylvania because: (1) this Court lacks
personal jurisdiction over Defendant; (2) this Court is an
improper venue; and (3) this Court is an inconvenient forum.
For the reasons set forth below, the Court will transfer this
matter to the United States District Court for the Western
District of North Carolina pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1631.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
16, 2016, 65 year-old Plaintiff Tina Bomberger suffered a
“subcapital fracture of her right hip” when
Defendant's employee attempted to transport Plaintiff
between terminals at Charlotte Douglas International Airport
in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Pls.' Br. Resp. Def.'s
Mot. 2-3, Doc. 7.) Plaintiffs Dennis and Tina Bomberger,
customers of Defendant American Airlines, were traveling from
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to Phoenix, Arizona. After boarding
Defendant's plane in Harrisburg, Plaintiffs flew to
Charlotte where Plaintiffs were scheduled to board a
connecting flight to Phoenix. Plaintiffs were transported
between terminals by one of Defendant's employees using a
golf cart. As Tina Bomberger was taking a step off of the
cart, Defendant's employee began driving the cart away,
causing Tina Bomberger to fall to the ground. Despite her
injuries, Tina Bomberger was able to board the connecting
flight to Phoenix. Upon her arrival in Phoenix, Tina
Bomberger was transported to a hospital where she underwent
surgery on her right hip.
November 24, 2017, Plaintiffs filed the instant action
seeking to recover damages for Tina Bomberger's injuries
and Dennis Bomberger's loss of consortium. On February 5,
2018, Defendant filed the instant motion to dismiss or, in
the alternative, transfer the case to the United States
District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
Because the Court finds that personal jurisdiction is lacking
in this forum, the Court will transfer the instant action to
the United States District Court for the Western District of
North Carolina pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1631.
Accordingly, the Court will not address Defendant's
arguments regarding improper venue and forum non conveniens.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(e), a court may exercise
personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant “to
the extent permissible under the law of the state where the
district court sits.” Pennzoil Prods. Co. v.
Colelli, 149 F.3d 197, 200 (3d Cir. 1998).
Pennsylvania's long-arm statute, 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann.
§ 5322, authorizes the Court to exercise personal
jurisdiction over non-resident defendants to the
constitutional limits of the Due Process Clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment. In other words, under
Pennsylvania's long-arm statute, the Court may exercise
personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant as long
as it is constitutional. Id.
plaintiff bears the burden of demonstrating the facts that
establish personal jurisdiction . . .” Pinker v.
Roche Holdings, Ltd., 292 F.3d 361, 368 (3d Cir. 2002).
When determining whether personal jurisdiction may be
asserted over a non-resident defendant, courts within the
Third Circuit follow a two-step process. Gehling v. St.
George's Sch. of Med., Ltd., 773 F.2d 539, 541 (3d
Cir. 1985). The first step in the analysis is to determine
whether the cause of action arises from the defendant's
forum or non-forum related activities. Id.
cause of action arises from the defendant's forum related
activities, a court is said to have “specific personal
jurisdiction” over the defendant. Courts within the
Third Circuit conduct a three-part inquiry when determining
whether specific personal jurisdiction exists.
O'Connor v. Sandy Lane Hotel Co., 496 F.3d 312,
317 (3d Cir. 2007). First, the plaintiff must establish that
the defendant “purposefully directed its activities at
the forum. Second, the litigation must arise out of or relate
to at least one of those activities.” Id.
(internal quotations omitted). If the first two requirements
are met, “a court may consider whether the exercise of
jurisdiction otherwise comports with fair play and
substantial justice.” Id. (internal quotations
claim arises from the defendant's non-forum related
activities, the second step in the analysis is to determine
whether general personal jurisdiction exists. That is,
whether the defendant's affiliations with Pennsylvania
were “so continuous and systematic as to render [the
defendant] essentially at home in the forum state.”
Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564
U.S. 915, 919 (2011) (“Goodyear Dunlop”). Prior
to the United States Supreme Court's decision in
Daimler AG v. Bauman, 571 U.S. 117, 122 (2014)
(“Daimler”), defendants were understood to be
subject to general jurisdiction where they were “doing
business” by having “continuous and systematic
general business contacts” with the forum state.
Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v. Hall,
466 U.S. 408, 415-16 (1984). However, in Daimler,
the Supreme Court rejected this standard. 571 U.S. at 138
(“Plaintiffs would have us . . . approve the exercise
of general jurisdiction in every State in which a corporation
engages in a substantial, continuous, and systematic course
of business. That formulation, we hold, is unacceptably
grasping.”) Instead, the Court suggested that the
touchstone of the general personal jurisdiction inquiry is
whether the defendant can be considered “at home”
in the forum state. 571 U.S. at 122.
typical forums in which a corporate defendant is at home are
the corporation's place of incorporation and its
principal place of business. BNSF Ry. v. Tyrrell,
137 S.Ct. 1549, 1558 (2017). However, the exercise of general
personal jurisdiction is not limited to these forums.
Id. There may be exceptional cases where a corporate
defendant's operations in another forum “may be so
substantial and of such a nature as to render the corporation
at home in that State.” Id. (quoting
Daimler, 571 U.S. at 139 n.19 (2014)).
Court finds that both specific and general personal
jurisdiction over Defendant are lacking in this case.
The Court Lacks Specific Personal ...