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Sherman v. Taeyeon MacHinery Company, Ltd.

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

June 12, 2014

KYLE SHERMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
TAEYEON MACHINERY COMPANY, LTD., BNC REBAR MACHINE U.S.A., INC., C MARSHALL FABRICATION MACHINERY, INC., and ABC RESPONSIBLE ENTITIES, jointly, severally, and/or in the alternative, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

JOSEPH H. RODRIGUEZ, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Defendant C Marshall Fabrication Machinery, Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2). For the reasons set forth below, the motion will be granted.

Background

Plaintiff, Kyle Sherman, was working at APS Supply in Beverly, New Jersey as a Rebar Fabricator on or about October 26, 2011. (Am. Compl. ¶ 8.) While Plaintiff was working with a Taeyeon TYR-HD-25B spiral bender, the machine jammed. (Am. Compl. ¶ 9.) As Plaintiff attempted to release the jam, the machine turned back on, drawing his hand into the wheels and causing him to sustain permanent injuries, including the amputation of two fingers on his right hand. (Am. Compl. ¶ 9.) As a result of these injuries, Plaintiff asserts claims for negligence and strict liability.[1]

Defendant, C Marshall Fabrication Machinery, Inc. ("Defendant"), is a California corporation with its principal place of business and sole residential office located in Simi Valley, California. (Aff. of Carroll Marshall ¶¶ 3, 7.) The corporation sells metal working and fabrication machinery. (Aff. of Carroll Marshall ¶ 4.) Carroll Marshall and his wife, Sonja Marshall, are the only employees of C Marshall. (Aff. of Carroll Marshall ¶ 5.) C Marshall does not have an office in New Jersey nor does it own or rent real property in New Jersey. (Aff. of Carroll Marshall ¶¶ 8, 10.) C Marshall does not have any employees, agents, or representatives in New Jersey. (Aff. of Carroll Marshall ¶¶ 12, 13.) C Marshall is not licensed to transact business in New Jersey, nor does it maintain any bank accounts in New Jersey. (Aff. of Carroll Marshall ¶¶ 9, 11.) Further, C Marshall does not direct any advertising or solicitations solely towards New Jersey, nor has either employee ever travelled to New Jersey on behalf of C Marshall to attend any trade show or to solicit business. (Aff. of Carroll Marshall ¶¶ 14, 15.)

C Marshall has no relationship with APS Supply Co., Inc. ("APS Supply"). (Aff. of Carroll Marshall ¶ 19.) C Marshall has never sold or distributed any machine to APS Supply, including the Taeyeon TYR-HD-25B spiral bender machine. (Aff. of Carroll Marshall ¶¶ 20, 21.) The Taeyeon TYR-HD-25B spiral bender machine upon which Plaintiff was injured was sold to APS Supply at the World of Concrete Trade Show in Las Vegas, Nevada in either 2008 or 2009 by Defendant BNC Rebar Machine, U.S.A., Inc. (Aff. of Carroll Marshall ¶ 22.) C Marshall did not attend the World of Concrete Trade Show in Las Vegas either of those years. (Aff. of Carroll Marshall ¶ 23.)

C Marshall became an authorized distributor of Taeyeon Machinery Company, Ltd. Products on January 1, 2012. (Aff. of Carroll Marshall ¶ 16.) Prior to January 1, 2012, C Marshall sold only a few Taeyeon products to entities in Alabama, California, and Ohio. (Aff. of Carroll Marshall ¶ 17.) None of these products were sold to any entities located in New Jersey. (Aff. of Carroll Marshall ¶ 17.)

C Marshall has only sold one TYR-HD-25B spiral bender machine in New Jersey. (Aff. of Carroll Marshall ¶ 25.) This sale occurred in 2013. (Aff. of Carroll Marshall ¶ 25.)

Discussion

In the context of a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, a plaintiff has the burden of persuasion to establish that jurisdiction is proper and must provide facts based upon competent evidence, such as affidavits, to prove jurisdiction. Metcalfe v. Renaissance Marine, Inc. , 566 F.3d 324, 330 (3d Cir. 2009); see also Time Share Vacation Club v. Atlantic Resorts, Ltd. , 735 F.2d 61, 66 n.9 (3d Cir. 1984) (explaining that, unlike a motion for failure to state a claim, a plaintiff may not rely on pleadings alone for contests of personal jurisdiction).[2]

Rule 4(k)(1)(A) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows a federal district court to "exercise[ ] personal jurisdiction according to the law of the state where it sits." O'Connor v. Sandy Lane Hotel Co. , 496 F.3d 312, 316 (3d Cir. 2007). Normally, this is a two-part inquiry; there must be a state statutory basis for exercising jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant as well as a constitutional basis whereby the minimum contacts between the non-resident and the forum state satisfy due process under the Fourteenth Amendment. See Metcalfe , 566 F.3d at 330. New Jersey's long-arm rule, however, extends jurisdiction over non-resident defendants to the full extent permitted by the United States Constitution. Carteret Sav. Bank, FA v. Shushan , 954 F.2d 141, 145 (3d Cir. 1992); see also N.J. Ct. R. 4-4(b)(1). As such, inquiry into whether personal jurisdiction exists over a non-resident defendant in New Jersey collapses into the due process analysis under the Constitution. Carteret , 954 F.2d at 145.

Personal jurisdiction may be exercised under two distinct theories: general jurisdiction or specific jurisdiction. O'Connor , 496 F.3d at 317.

General personal jurisdiction exists when the evidence shows the defendant's contacts with the forum, whether or not related to the litigation, are "continuous and systematic." Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia. S.A. v. Hall , 466 U.S. 408, 416 (1984). In other words, "the defendant has purposefully directed its activities toward 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 Indus., Inc. v. Kiekert AG , 155 F.3d 254, 259 (3d Cir. 1998) (internal quotations and citations omitted). General jurisdiction requires "a very high threshold of business activity." Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinea v. Ins. Co. of N. Am. , 651 F.2d 877, 891 n.2 (3d Cir. 1981).

Plaintiff does not offer any evidence of continuous and systematic contacts between Defendant and this forum. In contrast, Defendant offers the following uncontested statements regarding the lack ...


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