United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
F. KENNEY JUDGE.
before the Court is Defendant, Aztec Bolting Services,
Inc.'s ("ABS"), Motion to Dismiss the Amended
Complaint (ECF No. 18), Defendant, Christopher Earl
High's ("High"), Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs
Amended Complaint (ECF No. 19), Plaintiffs Response to
Defendants' Motions (ECF No. 20), and ABS's Reply
(ECF No. 22).
initiated the instant matter by way of a Complaint filed on
April 11, 2019. On May 6, 2019, Plaintiff filed its Amended
Complaint, which is the subject of the Defendants'
Motions to Dismiss. According to Plaintiffs Amended
Complaint, High was hired by Plaintiff on May 21, 2018 as a
sales representative for its Houston, Texas region. ECF No.
14 at ¶ 51. On or around February 25, 2019, Plaintiff
alleges that High left Plaintiffs employ and began working
for ABS, a Texas corporation with its principle place of
business in League City, Texas. ECF No. 14 at ¶¶ 2
and 75. ABS is both a competitor and customer of Plaintiffs.
ECF No. 20 at 2-3. Plaintiff alleges that High
misappropriated Plaintiffs entire customer list for the
Houston, Texas area when he provided said customer list to
ABS. ECF No. 14 at ¶¶ 68 and 74. Plaintiffs Amended
Complaint alleges three Counts against Defendants: 1)
interference with contractual relations; 2) violation of
uniform trade secrets act; and 3) breach of contract (as to
High, only). Id. at ¶¶ 79-94.
in its Complaint, asserts this Court has diversity
jurisdiction over the parties. Id. at ¶¶
4-5. In support of its assertion that this Court has personal
jurisdiction over the Defendants, and venue is appropriate in
this District, Plaintiffs Complaint sets forth the following
1) "Plaintiff TorcUP designs, manufactures, and sells
tools and accessories from its plant in Easton,
Pennsylvania"; 2) "Defendant ABS is a regular
customer of Plaintiff; 3) "Defendant ABS has been a
customer of [Plaintiff] for approximately twenty years";
4) "Defendant ABS places approximately one order for
tools or parts every week or two to Plaintiff TorcUP in
Easton, Pennsylvania"; 5) "Defendant ABS sends
regular e-mails to Plaintiff TorcUP in Easton, Pennsylvania,
inquiring if it has tools or parts in stock and requesting
quotations"; 6) "Defendant ABS receives quotations
via e-mail from Plaintiff TorcUP in Easton,
Pennsylvania"; 7) "Defendant ABS sends orders via
e-mail to Plaintiff TorcUP in Easton, Pennsylvania"; 8)
"Plaintiff TorcUP makes shipments of ordered parts and
tools from its address in Easton, Pennsylvania, to Defendant
ABS"; 9) "Defendant ABS sent payments to Plaintiff
TorcUP in Easton, Pennsylvania, via check"; 10)
"Defendant ABS currently sends payments to one of
Plaintiff TorcUP's bank accounts in Pennsylvania via wire
transfer"; 11) "Plaintiff TorcUP receives regular
phones calls in its office in Easton, Pennsylvania, from
Defendant ABS employees who have questions about Plaintiff
TorcUP tools"; 12) "Defendant ABS has Plaintiff
TorcUP tools in its rental fleet of tools"; 13)
"Defendant ABS resells tools it purchased from Plaintiff
TorcUP"; 14) "Defendant ABS owner or President, as
well as various employees, have been to Plaintiff
TorcUP's plant in Easton, Pennsylvania, for
training"; 15) "Defendant High was trained by
Plaintiff TorcUP in Easton, Pennsylvania"; 16)
"Defendant High signed his Employee Confidentiality and
Non-Competition Agreement in Easton, Pennsylvania"; 17)
"Defendant High, while employed by Plaintiff TorcUP,
reported to his sales managers in Easton, Pennsylvania, via
phone and e-mail on a daily basis"; 18) "Defendant
High, while employed by Plaintiff TorcUP, was selling
Plaintiff TorcUP's tools and accessories which sales were
processed and shipped from Plaintiff TorcUP's plant in
Easton, Pennsylvania"; 19) "Plaintiff TorcUP's
customer list is maintained in its offices in Easton,
Pennsylvania"; 20) "Plaintiff TorcUP's sales
information is maintained in its offices in Easton,
Pennsylvania"; 21) "Plaintiff TorcUP's finances
are based in Easton, Pennsylvania"; 22) "Plaintiff
TorcUP's corporate headquarters is in Easton,
Pennsylvania"; 23) "Plaintiff TorcUP is being
harmed in Easton, Pennsylvania, by the conduct of Defendants
in stealing its customer list"; 24) "Plaintiff
TorcUP ships tools and accessories to customers from Easton,
Pennsylvania"; 25) "Defendants were aware that
their conduct would harm Plaintiff TorcUP in Easton,
Pennsylvania"; 26) "Defendants' solicitation of
and sales to Plaintiff TorcUP's customers harmed
Plaintiff TorcUP in Pennsylvania"; 27) "Defendant
ABS was aware that Defendant High was employed by Plaintiff
TorcUP"; and 28) "Defendant ABS hired Defendant
High because he has access to Plaintiff TorcUP's customer
list which is maintained and updated in Pennsylvania."
Id. at ¶¶ 6-35.
Motions to Dismiss argue that this Court lacks personal
jurisdiction over the Defendants. Because this Court did not
have an evidentiary hearing, to defeat Defendants'
Motions to Dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction,
Plaintiff must show a prima facie case that personal
jurisdiction exists. Miller Yacht Sales, Inc. v.
Smith, 384 F.3d 93, 97 (3d Cir. 2004). "The
plaintiff is entitled to have its allegations taken as true
and all factual disputes drawn in its favor."
Id. Further, Plaintiff bears the burden of
demonstrating that personal jurisdiction exists in the forum.
O'Connor v. Sandy Lane Hotel Co., 496 F.3d 312,
316 (3d Cir. 2007).
Fed. R. Civ. P 4(k), a district court analyzes personal
jurisdiction based on the law of the state where it sits.
Id. Therefore, the Pennsylvania long-arm statute
must be applied. Id. This statute allows the Court
to exercise personal jurisdiction over an individual "to
the fullest extent allowed under the Constitution of the
United States and may be based on the most minimum contact
with this Commonwealth allowed under the Constitution of the
United States." 42 Pa. Stat. and Cons. Stat. Ann. §
5322(b). Initially, in the determination of the existence of
personal jurisdiction, this Court must ask whether under the
Due Process Clause the defendant has "certain minimum
contacts with . . . [Pennsylvania] such that maintenance of
the suit does not offend traditional notions of fair play and
substantial justice." O'Connor, 496 F.3d at
317 (alteration in original) (quoting Int'l Shoe Co.
v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945)). Here,
Plaintiff claims this Court has specific personal
jurisdiction over both ABS and High. ECF No. 20 at 9.
Traditional Specific Jurisdiction
apply a three-part test in the determination of specific
jurisdiction.O'Connor, 496 F.3d at 317.
"First, the defendant must have 'purposefully
directed [its] activities' at the forum."
Id. (alteration in original) (quoting Burger
King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 472 (1985)). A
defendant purposefully avails itself of the laws and
"privileges" of a forum state by "conducting
activities within the forum." Id. (quoting
Hanson v. Denckla, 357 U.S. 235, 253 (1958)). No
physical entry is required, but the defendant must have
"deliberate[ly] target[ed]" the forum. Id.
"In assessing whether a commercial entity has availed
itself of the privileges of a forum's laws, jurisdiction
is proper if the defendant has taken 'action . . .
purposefully directed toward the forum State."'
Pinker v. Roche Holdings Ltd., 292 F.3d 361, 370 (3d
Cir. 2002) (quoting Asahi Metal Indus. Co., Ltd. v.
Superior Court of Cal, 480 U.S. 102, 112 (1987)
(plurality opinion of O'Connor, J.)). "This
purposeful availment requirement ensures that a defendant
will not be haled into a jurisdiction solely as a result of
random, fortuitous, or attenuated contacts." Burger
King, 471 U.S. at 475 (quotation marks omitted).
plaintiffs claims must "arise out of or relate to"
defendant's purposefully targeted activities in the
forum. See O'Connor, 496 F.3d at 318 (quoting
Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v. Hall,466 U.S. 408, 414 (1984)). When analyzing the relatedness of
purposeful contacts to the forum state, the Third Circuit
Court of Appeals does not subscribe to a bright-line rule or
categorical method of analysis. Id. at 322
("[T]here is no 'specific rule' susceptible to
mechanical application in every case."). The Third
Circuit requires a causal connection between the
defendant's purposeful contacts within the forum and the
claims alleged. Id. This causal connection is
"a closer and more direct causal connection than that
provided by the but-for test" but "somewhat looser
than the tort concept of proximate causation."
Id. at 323. "But in the course of this
necessarily fact-sensitive inquiry, the analysis should hew
closely to the reciprocity principle upon which specific
jurisdiction rests. With each purposeful contact by an
out-of-state resident, the forum state's laws will extend
certain benefits and impose certain obligations. Specific
jurisdiction is the cost of enjoying the ...