United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
case arises from a products liability action originally filed
in the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County by Plaintiff
Henry Sciortino (“Plaintiff” or
“Sciortino”) against Defendant Pure Fishing, Inc.
(“Defendant” or “Pure Fishing”).
Sciortino sued Pure Fishing because it allegedly manufactured
and sold a defective pair of Wader boots that caused him
injury after a fall. Wader boots are waterproof shoes often
used for hunting and other outdoor activities.
the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 81),
Plaintiff's Response in Opposition (Doc. No. 82), and
Defendant's Reply (Doc. No. 83). The parties dispute
whether Pennsylvania courts can exercise personal
jurisdiction over Pure Fishing. The company was incorporated
in Iowa and maintains a principal place of business in South
Carolina. It has an office in Philadelphia, is registered to
do business in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and has
received tax credits from Pennsylvania for work in research
contends that a Pennsylvania court cannot exercise personal
jurisdiction over it because this would violate the Due
Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In Daimler AG
v. Bauman, 571 U.S. 117 (2014), the United States
Supreme Court held that under the Due Process Clause, a court
can only exercise personal jurisdiction over a company if it
is “at home” in the state. Defendant claims that
the facts show it is not “at home” in
Pennsylvania. Plaintiff argues to the contrary that
regardless of Defendant's contact with Pennsylvania, it
has consented to personal jurisdiction by registering to do
business in this state.
reasons that follow, the Court is persuaded that it is proper
to exercise personal jurisdiction over Pure Fishing based on
its consent by registering to do business in Pennsylvania.
Consequently, the Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 81) will be
Sciortino is a Pennsylvania resident. (Doc. No. 80 ¶ 2.)
Pure Fishing is a company that designs, manufacturers and
sells Wader boots. (Id. ¶ 28.) In the United
States, Pure Fishing conducts business in the following four
cities: Columbia, South Carolina, Sprite Lake, Iowa, Kansas
City, Missouri, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Doc. No.
81-1 ¶ 23.) Its principal place of business is Columbia,
South Carolina. (Doc. No. 81-1 ¶ 8.) The company is
incorporated in the state of Iowa. (Id. ¶ 9.)
About forty-eight Pure Fishing employees work at its
Philadelphia facility, which is located at 3028 W. Hunting
Park Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19132-1121. (Doc.
No. 80 ¶ 6; Doc. No. 81-1 ¶ 13.) At this location,
Pure Fishing manufactures and repairs fishing reels sold
under PENN's brand, through a license agreement it has
with PENN. (Doc. No. 80 ¶ 14; Doc. No. 81-1 ¶ 20.)
January 5, 2009, Pure Fishing filed an Application for a
Certificate of Authority with the Corporation Bureau of the
Pennsylvania Department of State, which authorized it to
conduct business in Pennsylvania as a foreign corporation.
(Doc. No. 80 ¶ 14; Doc. No. 80 at 30-31; Doc. No. 82 at
16-17.) On March 28, 2016, it filed a Statement of Merger,
which gave notice that it acquired a company named Hardy
North America, Ltd., also a Pennsylvania corporation. (Doc.
No. 80 ¶ 10; Doc. No. 80 at 32-35.) Both of these
documents list an entity named “C.T. Corporation
System” as Pure Fishing's Commercial Registered
Office Provider for acceptance of service in Philadelphia
County. (See Doc. No. 80 at 31, 33.)
in 2009, Pure Fishing submitted applications to receive tax
credits from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for
participation in a research and development tax program.
(Id. ¶ 22.) In each application for these
credits, Pure Fishing identified itself as a corporate
citizen of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to qualify for
tax credits. (Id. ¶ 21; see also 061
Pa. Code § 9.17.) Pursuant to a subpoena issued during
jurisdictional discovery in this case, the Pennsylvania
Department of Revenue sent Plaintiff copies of the three most
recently filed applications. (Doc. No. 80 ¶ 23.) They
show that from 2014 to 2016, Pure Fishing received these tax
credits from the Pennsylvania Department of State. (Doc. No.
80 ¶ 20; Doc. No. 81 at 12.) Specifically, Pure Fishing
received $5, 872 for work it did in the area of Research and
Development in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 2014; $1,
530 in 2015; and $8, 711 in 2016. (Doc. No. 80 ¶¶
History of the Wader Boots and Sciortino's
1850's Pure Fishing's predecessor, a company named
Hodgman, introduced Wader boots into the marketplace.
(Id. ¶ 27.) Presently, Pure Fishing owns the
Hodgman brand. (Id. ¶ 7.) Pure Fishing
designed, manufactured and sold the particular model involved
in this dispute, known as Chest Waders, which Plaintiff
purchased on January 22, 2004. (Id. ¶ 28; Doc. No.
81-1 ¶ 20.) With few exceptions, he wore the boots only
twice a year from 2004 to 2015. They were worn during hunting
seasons. (Doc. No. 80 ¶¶ 37, 38.)
January 6, 2015, Sciortino went on a hunting trip to Middle
Creek Wildlife Management Area in Kleinfeltersville,
Pennsylvania. (Id. ¶ 40.) That day, it snowed
and the weather conditions were cold, rainy and windy.
(Id. ¶ 41.) At approximately 5:30 a.m.,
Sciortino began walking through mud, water, slush and
underbrush. (Id. ¶ 44.) After walking about
fifty feet, he fell to the ground and hit his leg and head on
rocks. (Id. ¶ 45.) He then lost consciousness
for some time. (Id. ¶ 46.) When he attempted to
get up, his foot twisted, and he fell again. (Id.)
This happened at least two more times. (Id. ¶
47.) After the repeated falls, Sciortino found that the sole
of his Wader boots had come completely detached.
(Id. ¶ 48.) He also found that the lower soles
of the boots were detached from their rubber upper-waterproof
base. (Id. ¶ 60.) The midsole, which serves as
an intermediate and integral component of the sole
construction was made of polymeric material. (Id.)
Sciortino alleges that all of these factors contributed to
result of his fall, Sciortino sustained many injuries and
underwent surgery. (Id. ¶¶ 67, 69-70.)
Since the incident, he has reached maximum recovery but has
not been able to achieve full mobility, maneuverability or to
eliminate the pain. (Id. ¶ 74.)
originally filed this lawsuit in the Court of Common Pleas of
Chester County Pennsylvania. (Doc. No. 1 at 6.) On February
8, 2017, Defendant removed the case to this Court pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1332,  the diversity of citizenship
jurisdiction statute. (Doc. No. 1.)
March 3, 2017, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint. (Doc.
No. 11.) He then filed a Second Amended Complaint on March
23, 2017. (Doc. No. 15.) Pure Fishing moved to dismiss
Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint arguing that the
Court lacks jurisdiction over it. (Doc. No. 20.) On July 7,
2017, the Court a hearing on the Motion, and at the hearing,
authorized the parties to conduct jurisdictional discovery.
(Doc. No. 41.)
October 11, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Third Amended Complaint.
(Doc. Nos. 42, 44.) Pure Fishing moved to dismiss the Third
Amended Complaint, again arguing that the Court lacks
jurisdiction over it. (Doc. No. 46.) On January 17, 2018, the
Court held another hearing on Pure Fishing's Motion to
Dismiss. (Doc. No. 51.) In light of the arguments made by
counsel, the Court authorized the parties to engage in
further jurisdictional discovery and afforded them the
opportunity to file supplemental memoranda addressing their
findings. (Doc. No. 52.) On August 15, 2018, the parties
completed jurisdictional discovery and Pure Fishing filed a
supplemental memorandum in support of its Motion to Dismiss.
(Doc. No. 63.) Plaintiff did not file a supplemental
memorandum on that date.
on September 12, 2018, Plaintiff filed another document
titled “Third Amended Complaint.” Because a Third
Amended Complaint had already been filed, the Court scheduled
a telephone conference to address to discrepancy. (Doc. No.
68.) During the conference, the Court indicated that it would
permit additional discovery on the issue of whether Pure
Fishing is registered to do business in the Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania, and also granted leave for Plaintiff to file a
Fourth Amended Complaint. (Doc. No. 73.) Plaintiff filed the
Fourth Amended Complaint on November 26, 2018. (Doc. No. 80.)
Jurisdictional discovery is now closed.
the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiff's Fourth Amended Complaint. (Doc. No. 81.)
Plaintiff filed a Response in Opposition (Doc. No. 82), and
Defendant filed a Reply (Doc. No. 83). For the following
reasons, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss will be denied.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) provides for dismissal of an
action when the Court does not have personal jurisdiction
over a defendant. “Once challenged, the plaintiff bears
the burden of establishing personal jurisdiction.”
O'Connor v. Sandy Lane Hotel Co., Ltd., 496 F.3d
312, 316 (3d Cir. 2007) (internal citation omitted). To show
personal jurisdiction, the plaintiff may rely on the
allegations in the complaint, affidavits, or other evidence.
Metcalfe v. Renaissance Marine, Inc., 566 F.3d 324,
330 (3d Cir. 2009). “Where the court chooses not to
conduct an evidentiary hearing, the plaintiff need only
demonstrate a prima facie case of jurisdiction to defeat a
motion to dismiss.” Carteret Sav. Bank v.
Shushan, 954 F.2d 141, 142 n.1 (3d Cir. 1992) (citations
omitted). In deciding a motion to dismiss for lack of
personal jurisdiction, the Court must “accept all of
the plaintiff's allegations as true and construe disputed
facts in favor of the plaintiff.” Id.