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Emerson Electric Co. v. Lorraine

August 27, 2008

EMERSON ELECTRIC CO., ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
LE CARBONE LORRAINE, S.A., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Simandle, District Judge

OPINION

I. INTRODUCTION

On Tuesday, August 12, 2008, the Court heard oral argument about three pending motions:

* Plaintiffs' motion to compel Carbone Lorraine North America Corp. and Carbone of America Industries Corp. (collectively "Carbone") and Le Carbone Lorraine, S.A ("LCL"), to produce documents responsive to Plaintiffs' First Set of Document Requests (Document Request Nos. 16, 18-19, 24, 31, 33, 48, 54) and Plaintiffs' First Set of Interrogatories to Defendants, (Interrogatory Nos. 8 and 10) that relate to Carbone's involvement in the Isostatic Graphite price-fixing conspiracy ("the Isostatic Graphite Documents") [Docket Items 96, 99];

* Plaintiffs' motion to compel Defendants to permit the inspection and copying of documents sought in Plaintiffs' First Set of Document Requests, Request for Production No. 57, relating to documents produced to the European Commission in relation to a case imposing fines on Le Carbone Lorraine, S.A., for its participation in a cartel involving electrical carbon and graphite products [Docket Items 95, 100]; and

* Plaintiffs' motion for an order declaring that the Court has personal jurisdiction over LCL and to compel LCL to respond to discovery [Docket Items 94, 101].

The Court reserved decision. For the reasons explained below, the Court shall enter an order finding that the Court has personal jurisdiction over LCL as a defendant and granting the motions to compel discovery of the documents produced to the Department of Justice and the European Commission.

II. BACKGROUND

This is an antitrust action arising out of an alleged conspiracy to fix prices in the electrical carbon products industry. See generally, Emerson Elec. Co. v. Le Carbone Lorraine, S.A., 500 F. Supp. 2d 437 (D.N.J. 2007) ("the August 2007 Opinion"). Approximately one year ago, Defendants filed motions to dismiss on several grounds. Particularly important to the current posture of the case, Defendant LCL filed a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and lack of personal jurisdiction. The Court held that it "lacks jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' claims related to foreign purchases," id. at 447, and therefore granted LCL's motion to dismiss those claims. That issue was heavily contested and the briefing and oral arguments focused on it.

However, the Court did not focus on the claim by LCL that the Court lacked personal jurisdiction over it and that the claims should be dismissed on that basis. In fact, the Court declined to decide that issue, as it stated in a footnote:

Because the Court is dismissing claims related to purchases abroad, the Court will not decide whether it has personal jurisdiction over Defendant Le Carbone Lorraine; it appears that all claims against Le Carbone Lorraine are dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under the FTAIA.

Id. at 447 n. 7. Although the Court indicated that it "appeared" that all claims against LCL in the Amended Complaint were related to purchases abroad, the Court did not decide that issue and did not order LCL to be dismissed as a party. Instead, the Order stated that "the Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint by Defendants Le Carbone Lorraine, Carbone Lorraine North America Corp., and Carbone of America Industries Corp. [Docket Item 9] shall be, and hereby is, GRANTED in part as to all claims arising out of foreign purchases." Id. at 457.

Upon closer examination of the Amended Complaint pursuant to the present motions, the Court has become aware that the Amended Complaint also alleges LCL caused Plaintiffs antitrust injury unrelated to foreign purchases. Those claims were not examined nor dismissed by the August 2007 Opinion. To the extent the August 2007 Opinion indicated that LCL should be dismissed entirely from this action, the Court revises that decision as explained herein.

Thus, the issue of whether the Court has personal jurisdiction over LCL for the claims asserted in the Amended Complaint is now squarely before the Court and has been briefed and argued by the parties on these motions. For the reasons explained below, the Court finds that it has specific personal jurisdiction over LCL.

III. PERSONAL JURISDICTION

A. Standards

The Court shall analyze the Amended Complaint to determine whether it alleges facts sufficient to show that the Court has personal jurisdiction over LCL.

[W]hen the court does not hold an evidentiary hearing on the motion to dismiss, the plaintiff need only establish a prima facie case of personal jurisdiction and the plaintiff is entitled to have its allegations taken as true and all factual disputes drawn in its favor.

Miller Yacht Sales, Inc. v. Smith, 384 F.3d 93, 97 (3d Cir. 2004). When a defendant raises a jurisdictional defense, the plaintiff must then show, "that the cause of action arose from the defendant's forum-related activities (specific jurisdiction) or that the defendant has 'continuous and systematic' contacts with the forum state (general jurisdiction)." Mellon Bank (EAST) PSFS, N.A. v. DiVeronica Bros., Inc., 983 F.2d 551, 554 (3d Cir. 1993).

The issue of personal jurisdiction in federal question cases must be analyzed within the context of the familiar "minimum contacts" test enunciated in International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 90 L.Ed. 95, 66 S.Ct. 154 (1945). . . . Under International Shoe, the exercise of personal jurisdiction is permissible if: (1) the entity has "minimum contacts" with the territory of the "forum," and (2) the assertion of jurisdiction over the entity comports with "'traditional notions of fair ...


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