United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
LAMONT SINGLETON and JOCELYN WILSON, Administrators of the Estate of ALIVIA SINGLETON, deceased, Plaintiffs,
PHARMATECH, LLC; THE HARVARD DRUG GROUP, LLC d/b/a RUGBY LABORATORIES; and BAYSHORE PHARMACEUTICALS, LLC, Defendants.
FLORIDA ULTRAPURE WATER, LLC d/b/a ALL FLORIDA WATER, INC.; and BRUCHEM, INC., Third Party Defendants.
Barry Fischer Senior United States District Judge
product liability action, Plaintiffs Lamont Singleton and
Joceyln Wilson (“Plaintiffs”) assert that their
child, A.S.'s injuries and death were caused by a
contaminated stool softener product the child ingested in a
Pennsylvania Hospital. (Docket No. 35). The product was
manufactured and sold by Defendant Pharma Tech, LLC, through
distributor Defendants the Harvard Drug Group, LLC and
Bayshore Pharmaceuticals, LLC. (Id.). Pharma Tech is
no longer participating in this litigation and its former
counsel was granted leave to withdraw. (Docket No. 151).
Relevant here, the Harvard Drug Group has asserted
negligence/contribution and common law indemnity claims
against Florida Ultrapure Water, LLC (“Florida
Water”) in a Third Party Complaint. (Docket No. 161).
Presently before the Court are Florida Ultrapure Water's
Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction, (Docket No. 188),
its Brief in Support, (Docket No. 189), the Harvard Drug
Group's Motion to Stay Briefing Schedule, (Docket No.
200), and Brief in Support, (Docket No. 201), Florida
Water's Response in Opposition, (Docket No. 208), the
Harvard Drug Group's Reply, (Docket No. 212), Florida
Water's Sur-Reply, (Docket No. 215), and the parties'
responses to the Court's Show Cause Order, (Docket Nos.
216; 223). After careful consideration of the parties'
submissions, and for the following reasons, the Harvard Drug
Group's Motion to Stay  is denied and Florida
Water's motion to dismiss  is granted.
outset, the Court notes that it dispenses with a lengthy
recitation of the facts as it writes primarily for the
parties and the applicable legal standards governing motions
to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and
corresponding motions for jurisdictional discovery are set
forth in this Court's prior opinions as well as the Hon.
Joy Flowers Conti's detailed analysis in Miller v.
Native Link Construction, LLC et al., Civ. A. No.
15-1605, 2017 WL 3536175 (W.D. Pa. Aug. 17, 2017), which this
Court finds most persuasive. To that end, it is well
established that following the Pennsylvania long-arm statute,
this Court may only exercise personal jurisdiction over an
out-of-state defendant upon a showing that the defendant is
either subject to: (1) general personal jurisdiction arising
from its continuous and systematic contacts with the forum
state; or, (2) specific personal jurisdiction when the causes
of action in the lawsuit arise from the defendant's
forum-related activities and the defendant can be said to
have purposely availed itself to the jurisdiction of the
Court. Id. at *18-20. When a dispute as to personal
jurisdiction arises, this Court has discretion to order
parties to conduct jurisdictional discovery if the movant
“establish[es] a prima facie case of personal
jurisdiction.” Shuker v. Smith & Nephew,
PLC, 885 F.3d 760, 780 (3d Cir. 2018).
Court's estimation, the Harvard Drug Group has failed to
meet its burden to demonstrate that jurisdictional discovery
is warranted as to its Third Party Complaint against Florida
Water for several reasons. See Shuker, 885
F.3d at 780. First, the Harvard Drug Group has not pled any
facts in its Third Party Complaint alleging that Florida
Water has continuous and systematic contacts with this forum,
(Docket No. 161 at 50-54), such that there is no factual
basis for the assertion of general personal jurisdiction over
Florida Water. See Miller, 2017 WL 3536175, at
*21-22. Second, the corresponding motion for jurisdictional
discovery does not provide any foundation for the Harvard
Drug Group to challenge the factual averments by Florida
Water's affiant that it does not conduct business outside
of Florida, let alone in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
(See Docket No. 201). Third, the Harvard Drug Group
concedes in its Response to the Court's Show Cause Order
that Florida Water is a Florida-based limited liability
company, owned by Florida citizens, with a principal place of
business in Florida, (Docket No. 216), such that the
assertion of general jurisdiction over the limited liability
company is not authorized. See Miller, 2017 WL
3536175, at *30 (holding that “[u]nder the rule of
Damiler as it has been applied to limited liability
companies, Native Link will only be subject to general
jurisdiction in the state of its organization and principal
place of business.”).
while the Harvard Drug Group maintains in its motion for
jurisdictional discovery that Florida Water may be subject to
specific personal jurisdiction based upon an alleged
awareness that Pharma Tech would be selling its products
beyond Florida's borders, the Third Circuit has expressly
rejected that an out-of-state defendant may be subject to
specific personal jurisdiction under a stream of commerce
theory. Shuker, 885 F.3d at 780 (“We perceive
no merit in the Shukers' stream-of-commerce theory of
personal jurisdiction.”). Hence, Florida Water's
involvement in this matter, which is limited to services
provided in relation to a water filtration system at Pharma
Tech's plant in Florida, is plainly insufficient to
justify this Court's assertion of specific personal
jurisdiction over Florida Water because there are no
allegations or evidence that Florida Water purposefully
availed itself or engaged in any targeted business activities
directed to this forum. Id. (quoting
Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court, __ U.S.
__, 137 S.Ct. 1773, 1783, 198 L.Ed.2d 395 (2017)
(“[t]he bare fact that [a non-resident defendant]
contracted with a [resident] distributor is not enough to
establish personal jurisdiction in the State.”)).
Fifth, the Harvard Drug Group remains unable to make a prima
facie case of personal jurisdiction (general or specific)
over Florida Water here despite having opportunities to
conduct discovery on Florida Water in the related Florida
state court litigation, regardless of any protective order
issued by that court. See Shuker, 885 F.3d
at 780. All told, this Court declines to authorize what
amounts to a fishing expedition on Florida Water, subjecting
it to jurisdictional discovery on issues which could not
result in a finding by this Court that it is appropriately
subject to personal jurisdiction in this Court. See
also Malik v. Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., 710
Fed.Appx. 561, 565 (3d Cir. 2017) (cautioning “[a]
plaintiff may not, however, undertake a fishing expedition
based only upon bare allegations, under the guise of
light of this analysis, the Court also finds that the Harvard
Drug Group has failed to meet its burden to demonstrate that
this Court may exercise personal jurisdiction over Florida
Water. See Miller, 2017 3536175, at *18-20.
Therefore, the Court denies the Harvard Drug Group's
motion to stay  and grants Florida Water's motion to
dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction , as it is
well-supported and fully justifies dismissal under Rule
12(b)(2). Such dismissal is without ...