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DEJAMES v. MAGNIFICENCE CARRIERS

June 18, 1980

Joseph DeJAMES, Plaintiff,
v.
MAGNIFICENCE CARRIERS, INC., Venture Shipping (Managers Ltd.) Nippon Yusen Kaisha, Hitachi Shipbuilding and Engineering Co., Ltd., and Usuki Tekkosho, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: COHEN

Plaintiff, Joseph DeJames, a New Jersey citizen, has brought suit under the admiralty jurisdiction of the court, 28 U.S.C. ยง 1333, to recover damages for personal injuries suffered while working aboard the vessel M. V. Magnificence Venture. The injuries allegedly occurred on January 26, 1977, while the vessel was moored at a pier in Camden, New Jersey.

According to the pleadings defendant, Hitachi Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, Ltd. (Hitachi), entered into a contract in Japan with defendants Magnificence Carriers, Inc., Venture Shipping (Managers Ltd.), and Nippon Yusen Kaisha, the charterers of the vessel, M. V. Magnificence Venture, whereby Hitachi agreed to convert the vessel into an automobile carrier. Plaintiff alleges in his complaint that the conversion work performed by Hitachi was defective and was the direct cause of his injuries.

 At the outset it should be noted that when a federal court is asked to exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant sued on a claim arising out of federal law, federal law under the due process clause of the fifth amendment is controlling. See Honeywell, Inc. v. Metz Apparatewerke, 509 F.2d 1137, 1143 (7th Cir. 1975); Fraley v. Chesapeake and Ohio Railway Company, 397 F.2d 1, 3-4 (3d Cir. 1968); Alco Standard Corp. v. Benalal, 345 F. Supp. 14, 24-25 (E.D.Pa.1972). That is not to say, however, that the analysis employed in diversity jurisdiction cases arising under the fourteenth amendment has no bearing on our decision in this case. In this regard, the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has remarked that the standard of due process set forth by the Supreme Court in International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 66 S. Ct. 154, 90 L. Ed. 95 (1945) and its progeny is equally applicable in cases grounded on a federal claim. See Fraley, 397 F.2d at 3; Goldberg v. Mutual Readers League, Inc., 195 F. Supp. 778, 782-83 (E.D.Pa.1961); accord, Wells Fargo & Co. v. Wells Fargo Exp. Co., 556 F.2d 406, 416 n.7 (9th Cir. 1977); Honeywell, Inc., 506 F.2d at 1143.

 In response to Hitachi's motion to dismiss, plaintiff argues first, that Hitachi's contacts with New Jersey are sufficient for the purposes of jurisdiction, and second, that where, as here, the court is to determine whether it has jurisdiction over a defendant who is being sued on a federal claim, it may consider not only the defendant's contacts with the forum state, but also the aggregate contacts of the defendant with the United States as a whole. We take up these arguments in turn.

 I.

 HITACHI'S "MINIMUM CONTACTS" WITH NEW JERSEY

 In order to determine whether the court may acquire jurisdiction over Hitachi based on its New Jersey contacts, we must first examine the principles set forth in the International Shoe line of cases.

 In International Shoe, the Supreme Court ruled that

 
Due process requires only that in order to subject a defendant to a judgment in personam, if he be not present within the territory of the forum, he have certain minimum contacts with it such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend "traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice."

 326 U.S. at 316, 66 S. Ct. at 158.

 McGee v. International Life Insurance, 355 U.S. 220, 78 S. Ct. 199, 2 L. Ed. 2d 223 (1957) further amplified the doctrine. In that case, suit was brought in California against a foreign insurance company on a policy issued to a California resident. The contract was delivered in California, the premiums were mailed from there, and the insured was living in California when he died. Although the defendant insurer did no other business in California, the Court ruled that it was subject to suit there based on the "substantial connection" of the contract itself to the State of California.

 Finally, in Hanson v. Denckla, 357 U.S. 235, 78 S. Ct. 1228, 2 L. Ed. 2d 1283 (1958), the Supreme Court held that

 
(t)he unilateral activity of those who claim some relationship with a nonresident defendant cannot satisfy the requirement of contact with the forum State. The application of that rule will vary with the quality and nature of the defendant's activity, but it is essential in each case that there be some act by which the defendant purposely avails itself of the privilege of ...

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