United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
AUSTIN MCHUGH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
me is the Motion to Dismiss of nonresident Defendant OMMA Srl
(OMMA), in which it alleges that it is not subject to
personal jurisdiction in this Court. See ECF 13.
When a district court sits in diversity, it "may assert
personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant to the
extent allowed under the law of the forum state."
Metcalfe v. Renaissance Marine, Inc., 566 F.3d 324,
330 (3d Cir. 2009); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(k).
The forum state in this case is Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania
authorizes jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant to the
extent permitted by the due process clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment of the United States Constitution. 42 Pa. C.S.
§ 5322(b). In turn, the due process clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment permits personal jurisdiction so long as
the nonresident defendant has certain minimum contacts with
the forum such that maintenance of the suit does not offend
"traditional notions of fair play and substantial
justice." Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326
U.S. 310, 316 (1945). Within the bounds of "fair play
and substantial justice," a court's exercise of
personal jurisdiction over a defendant may be either general
or specific. Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia S.A. v.
Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 414 nn.8-9 (1984).
may exercise general personal jurisdiction over a nonresident
defendant when the defendant's contacts with the forum
state are so "continuous and systematic" that the
defendant is '"essentially at home in the forum
State.'" Chavez v. Dole Food Co., Inc., 836
F.3d 205, 223 (3d Cir. 2016) (en banc) (quoting Daimler
AG v. Bauman, 571 U.S. 117, 137-39 (2014)). A
corporation typically is at home in the state in which it is
incorporated or in which it maintains its principal place of
business. Id. Consequently, it is "incredibly
difficult to establish general jurisdiction over a
corporation in a forum other than the place of incorporation
or principal place of business." Id. (internal
quotation marks omitted).
this backdrop, OMMA argues that this Court may not assert
general personal jurisdiction over it because it was never
"at home" in Pennsylvania. I agree. The company is
not incorporated here, does not maintain an office here, and
does not supervise its business or any of its employees here.
Plaintiffs have alleged no facts to the contrary. Indeed,
neither Plaintiffs nor co-Defendant Midwest offers any
argument why this Court should or could exercise general
personal jurisdiction against OMMA. In their Response,
Plaintiffs note only that "it is not in the interest of
the court to simply dismiss all claims against [OMMA]."
ECF 14, at 8. Midwest does no better, stating only that
"[t]he possibility exists that OMMA has other contacts
or activities in Pennsylvania such that they would be subject
to general jurisdiction in the forum." ECF 15, at 4.
Much more is required before this Court will assert general
personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant.
Accordingly, Defendants' pending Motion to Dismiss will
be granted as to general personal jurisdiction, and
Plaintiffs' request for leave to conduct jurisdictional
discovery on that basis is denied.
general personal jurisdiction, a court may exercise specific
personal jurisdiction "when the cause of action arises
from the defendant's forum related activities."
Chavez, 836 F.3d at 223. A cause of action arises
from a defendant's forum-related activities when (1) the
defendant purposefully directed its activities at the forum
and (2) the litigation arose out of or relates to at least
one of those activities. Numeric Analytics, LLC v.
McCabe, 161 F.Supp.3d 348, 355 (E.D. Pa. Feb. 9, 2016)
(McHugh, J.) (quoting Int'l Shoe, 326 U.S. at
320). Even if those requirements are met, the court may
consider whether the exercise of specific personal
jurisdiction otherwise "comports with fair play and
substantial justice." Id.
Plaintiffs' specific personal jurisdiction argument seems
premised in part on a "stream-of-commerce" theory.
The stream-of-commerce theory contends that "specific
personal jurisdiction exists over a non-resident defendant
when that defendant has injected its goods into the forum
state indirectly via the so-called stream of commerce,
rendering it foreseeable that one of the defendant's
goods could cause injury in the forum state." Shuker
v. Smith & Nephew, PLC, 885 F.3d 760, 780 (3d Cir.
2018) (internal quotation marks omitted). However, as the
Court of Appeals recently observed, "[a] plurality of
Supreme Court Justices has twice rejected the
stream-of-commerce theory." Id. (citing J.
Mclntyre Mack, Ltd. v. Nicastro, 564 U.S. 873, 877-85
(2011) (plurality opinion); Asahi Metal Indus. Co. v.
Superior Court, 480 U.S. 102, 108-13 (1987) (plurality
opinion)). The prevailing view among these pluralities
appears to be that plaintiffs must instead rely on "some
act by which the defendant purposefully avails itself of the
privilege of conducting activities within the forum State,
thus invoking the benefits and protections of its laws."
Asahi, 480 U.S. at 109. Following the Supreme
Court's lead, the Court of Appeals has thus been
reluctant to endorse the stream-of-commerce theory as a basis
for a court's exercise of specific personal jurisdiction.
See Shuker, 885 F.3d at 780.
allegations state only that OMMA sold its machine to Midwest,
a Minnesota corporation, which in turn distributed the
machine into Pennsylvania. Such attenuated contacts with
Pennsylvania, without more, will not suffice under
Shuker, the most recent pronouncement from the Court
of Appeals on specific personal jurisdiction. Id. at
the declaration offered by Defendant OMMA in support of its
motion to dismiss, see ECF 13 (declaration of OMMA
General Manager), does not entirely foreclose the possibility
that the alleged injuries "arise out of or relate
to" activities "purposefully directed" by OMMA
toward residents of Pennsylvania. See Shuker, 885
F.3d at 780-81.
I will grant Plaintiffs' request for jurisdictional
discovery, but limit that grant in both time and scope. For
ninty days from the issuance of this ORDER, Plaintiffs may
seek discovery from any Defendant to establish a basis for
this Court to exercise specific personal jurisdiction over
Defendant OMMA. By the end of that period, ...