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Wurth Adams Nut & Bolt Co. v. Seastrom Manufacturing Co. Inc.

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

April 6, 2015

WURTH ADAMS NUT & BOLT CO., Plaintiff,
v.
SEASTROM MANUFACTURING CO. INC., Defendant.

OPINION

WILLIAM J. MARTINI, District Judge.

Plaintiff Wurth Adams Nut & Bolt Co. brings this action against Defendant Seastrom Manufacturing Co. Inc. alleging several causes of action in connection with its purchase of washers from Defendant for resale. This matter comes before this Court on Defendant's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2). There was no oral argument. Fed.R.Civ.P. 78(b). For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion to dismiss is GRANTED.

I. BACKGROUND

The following facts are alleged in the Complaint. Plaintiff, a wholesale seller of fasteners and assembly components, is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in New Jersey. (Compl. ¶¶ 1, 3, ECF No. 1). Defendant manufacturers a variety of metal parts and components and is both incorporated and principally located in Idaho. (Compl. ¶¶ 2, 4). This case arises from Plaintiff's order of a large quantity of wave washers from Defendant for resale to Plaintiff's customers. (Compl. ¶¶ 5, 8).

Before Plaintiff ordered the washers, Defendant represented to Plaintiff that the washers were manufactured to a specific set of characteristics. (Compl. ¶ 7). Additionally, one of Plaintiff's customers, Toro, reviewed the washer's specifications to ensure that they were fit for their intended purpose. (Compl. ¶ 6). Plaintiff then ordered a large quantity of the washers from Defendant and subsequently resold them to Toro. (Compl. ¶¶ 8-11).

After Toro notified Plaintiff that the washers were not performing as expected, Plaintiff retained an independent laboratory to test them. (Compl. ¶ 13). Plaintiff's investigation confirmed that the washers were defective. (Compl. ¶¶ 13-14, 16). Toro subsequently asserted claims for damages related to the washers against Plaintiff, which Plaintiff resolved by paying Toro $349, 641.00. (Compl. ¶¶ 19-20). Plaintiff also claims to have incurred additional expenses beyond that amount. (Compl. ¶ 22).

Plaintiff originally filed this matter in the Superior Court of New Jersey. Defendant removed to this Court on June 13, 2014. After expedited jurisdictional discovery, Defendant filed this motion to dismiss, claiming that it does not have constitutionally sufficient "minimum contacts" with New Jersey for this Court to assert personal jurisdiction.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) provides for the dismissal of a complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction. When evaluating a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, the court may consider facts outside of the complaint. Patterson by Patterson v. F.B.I., 893 F.2d 595, 603-04 (3d Cir. 1990). The burden of establishing personal jurisdiction lies with the plaintiff. Marten v. Godwin, 499 F.3d 290, 295-96 (3d Cir. 2007).

"[T]o exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant, a federal court sitting in diversity must undertake a two-step inquiry." IMO Indus., Inc. v. Kiekert AG, 155 F.3d 254, 258-59 (3d Cir. 1998). First, the court applies the forum state's long-arm statute to determine whether it permits the exercise of jurisdiction. Id. at 259. Second, the court applies the principles of the Due Process Clause of the Constitution. Id. In New Jersey, this inquiry is collapsed into a single step, because the New Jersey long-arm statute permits the exercise of personal jurisdiction to the full extent of due process. See DeJames v. Magnificence Carriers, Inc., 654 F.2d 280, 284 (3d Cir. 1981). Personal jurisdiction under the Due Process Clause requires a plaintiff to show that the defendant has "certain minimum contacts with [the forum] such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.'" Provident Nat. Bank v. California Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n, 819 F.2d 434, 436-37 (3d Cir. 1987) (quoting Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945)).

III. DISCUSSION

Personal jurisdiction may be exercised generally or specifically. D'Jamoos ex rel. Estate of Weingeroff v. Pilatus Aircraft Ltd., 566 F.3d 94, 102 (3d Cir. 2009). The Court addresses each of these categories in turn.

A. General Jurisdiction

The Court first finds that Defendant's contacts with the forum do not justify general jurisdiction. "General jurisdiction is invoked when the plaintiff's cause of action arises outside of the defendant's contacts with the forum." N. Penn Gas Co. v. Corning Natural Gas Corp., 897 F.2d 687, 690 n.2 (3d Cir. 1990). It requires "significantly more" than minimum contacts. Provident Nat. Bank, 819 F.2d at 437. Specifically, a court may assert general jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant only where the defendant's "continuous and systematic" contacts with the forum rise to the level of rendering the defendant "essentially at home in the forum State." Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 131 S.Ct. 2846, 2851 (2011). ...


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