United States District Court, D. New Jersey
June 7, 2005.
JON SUKEFORTH, administrator of the Estate of Patrick Sukeforth, Plaintiff,
THE CHESAPEAKE INN, et al., Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: JEROME SIMANDLE, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION and ORDER
This is the unopposed motion to dismiss for lack of personal
jurisdiction pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2) filed by Defendant
M&M Inc. t/a The Chesapeake Inn (the "Chesapeake Inn"). For the
following reasons, the motion will be granted and the Court will
dismiss the Complaint against the Chesapeake Inn for lack of
personal jurisdiction in New Jersey.
The Court initially makes the following findings of fact for
purposes of this motion only:
1. Plaintiff, Jon Sukeforth, is the administrator of
the estate of his deceased brother, Patrick
Sukeforth. On or about May 26, 2002, Patrick was a
passenger on a boat, the "Hard Wood," owned and
captained by Richard Boyce. (Compl. ¶¶ 1-2.) 2. While cruising on the Delaware River, Patrick and
Boyce patronized the Chesapeake Inn, a restaurant
located on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. (Def. Br.
at 6.) Plaintiff alleges that Boyce consumed alcohol
at the Chesapeake Inn and was served alcohol despite
his being visibly intoxicated. (Compl. ¶¶ 2-3.)
3. Patrick remained a passenger on the Hard Wood in
the early morning hours of May 27, 2002 when the boat
allegedly hit a submerged object, thereby losing its
propellor and becoming disabled. The Complaint
alleges that Boyce was operating the vessel while
intoxicated, at an excessive rate of speed and in a
negligent manner. (Id. ¶¶ 1, 4.)
4. The Hard Wood ultimately drifted into the channel
of the Delaware River at which time it was allegedly
struck by another boat, the "Cape Cod." (Id. at ¶
5. Immediately prior to the collision, Patrick and
Boyce jumped from the Boat into the Delaware River.
Boyce was rescued, though Patrick's body was never
recovered. Patrick was pronounced deceased by the
Superior Court of New Jersey, Salem County, on May
14, 2004. (Id. at ¶¶ 6-9.) This negligence and
wrongful death action was commenced on May 27, 2004. Defendant filed this motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(2), arguing that it has no contacts with the State of New
Jersey sufficient to support the exercise of personal
jurisdiction by this Court. (Def. Br. at 2.) The plaintiff bears
the burden of demonstrating the facts that establish personal
jurisdiction. Pinker v. Roche Holdings Ltd., 292 F.3d 361
(3d Cir. 2002). Even accepting as true all of Plaintiff's
allegations here, id. at 368, the Court finds that Plaintiff
has not satisfied that burden.
In order for this Court to exercise personal jurisdiction over
a party, "the plaintiff must show that the defendant has
purposefully directed its activities toward the residents of the
forum state, or otherwise purposefully availed itself of the
privilege of conducting activities within the forum State, thus
invoking the benefits and protections of its laws." IMO
Industries, Inc. v. Kiekert AG, 155 F.3d 254, 258-59 (3d Cir.
1998) (internal citations omitted). Here, Plaintiff does not
contest that the Chesapeake Inn is located in Maryland and that
it has no physical presence in New Jersey. Moreover, Plaintiff
does not dispute that Defendant the Chesapeake Inn has no agent
for service of process in New Jersey, does not own or directly
lease any property in New Jersey, does not advertise in any New
Jersey publication, and has no telephone listing or address in
New Jersey. (Def. Br. at 5-6.) For above reasons, Plaintiff can not demonstrate that Defendant
the Chesapeake Inn has invoked the benefits and protections of
New Jersey law thereby supporting a finding of personal
jurisdiction.*fn1 The Complaint must be dismissed as to
Defendant the Chesapeake Inn.
Therefore, IT IS this 7th day of June 2006 hereby
ORDERED that the motion to dismiss for lack of personal
jurisdiction by Defendant the Chesapeake Inn [Docket Item 3] is
GRANTED, without prejudice to Plaintiff's right to initiate
suit in a court of competent jurisdiction.