United States District Court, D. New Jersey
METROPOLITAN GROUP PROPERTY AND CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff,
ELECTROLUX HOME PRODUCTS, INC., Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
G. SHERIDAN, U.S.D.J.
matter comes before the Court on Defendant Electrolux Home
Products, Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff Metropolitan
Group Property and Casualty Insurance Company's
(hereinafter, "Metlife") Complaint pursuant Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) for lack of personal
jurisdiction. (ECF No. 12). For the reasons discussed herein,
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss is granted.
as subrogee to the rights of Carol Russell, brings this
products liability case against Electrolux Home Products,
Inc. (hereinafter, "Electrolux"), a Delaware
corporation with its principal place of business in North
Carolina, based on a fire purportedly caused by a dryer it
manufactured. (Complaint at ¶ 3). Electrolux is a global
company that manufactures home appliances, such as the gas
fired clothes dryer at issue in this case. (Id. at
¶ 4; ECF No. 12-1 at 4 "Miller Affidavit" at
¶ 5). Electrolux is registered to do business in New
Jersey, as well as 27 other states. (Miller Affidavit at
¶ 7). Of its 56, 000 employees, only 8 are located in
New Jersey, none of whom make strategic corporate-level
decisions. (Id. at ¶ 5). Moreover, Electrolux
does not have any manufacturing facilities, offices, or
warehouses in New Jersey. (Id. at ¶ 6).
November 14, 2016, a "hostile fire" occurred at
Russell's residence in Nyack, New York, which resulted in
Metlife, as Russell's insurer, remitting
"substantial payment" to her. (Complaint at ¶
5). Apparently, Russell owned a gas-fired clothes dryer
manufactured by Electrolux, which purportedly caused the
fire. (Id. at ¶ 8). According to the Complaint,
while the dryer was in operation, an accumulation of lint
caught fire, which caused the dryer to ignite and burn
Russell's residence. (Id. at ¶¶ 9,
17). The fire caused significant property damage to
Russell's residence, in excess of $100, 000.
(Id. at ¶ 17). Thereafter, Russell subrogated
her rights to Metlife, who now brings the present cause of
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2), a complaint may
be dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction. "If an
issue is raised as to whether a court lacks personal
jurisdiction over a defendant, the plaintiff bears the burden
of showing that personal jurisdiction exists."
Marten v. Godwin, 499 F.3d 290, 295-96 (3d Cir.
2007). "[C]ourts reviewing a motion to dismiss a case
for lack of in personam jurisdiction must accept all of the
plaintiffs allegations as true and construe disputed facts in
favor of the plaintiff." Carteret Sav. Bank, FA v.
Shushan, 954 F.2d 141, 142 n.l (3d Cir. 1992). "The
plaintiff must sustain its burden of proof through sworn
affidavits or other competent evidence." North Penn
Gas Co. v. Corning Natural Gas Corp., 897 F.2d 687, 689
(3d Cir. 1990) (internal quotation marks and citation
omitted). Moreover, "the plaintiff must establish either
that the particular cause of action sued upon arose from the
defendant's activities within the forum state
('specific jurisdiction') or that the defendant has
'continuous and systematic' contacts with the forum
state ('general jurisdiction')." Provident
Nat'l Bank v. California Fed. Sav. & Loan
Ass'/?., 819 F.2d 434, 437 (3d Cir. 1987) (citations
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(k), "a federal
district court may assert personal jurisdiction over a
nonresident of the state in which the court sits to the
extent authorized by the law of that state."
Marten, 499 F.3d at 296 (quoting Provident
Nat'l Bank, 819 F.2d at 437). Pursuant to the New
Jersey long-arm rule, N.J. Ct. R. 4:4-4(c), personal
jurisdiction in New Jersey "extends to the limits of the
Fourteenth Amendment Due Process protection."
Carteret Sav. Bank, FA, 954 F.2d at 145. Therefore,
this Court is "constrained, under New Jersey's
long-arm rule, only by the 'traditional notions of fair
play and substantial justice, ' inhering in the Due
Process Clause of the Constitution." Id.
(quoting Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S.
310, 316 (1945)). Those notions require that a defendant have
certain minimum contacts with the forum state based upon the
defendant's own purposeful availment "of the
privilege of conducting activities within the forum State,
thus invoking the benefits and protections of its laws."
Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 475
contends that general personal jurisdiction exists based on
Electrolux's registration to do business in New Jersey
and its "systemic and continuous" contacts with the
state. Electrolux responds that registration does not create
general personal jurisdiction.
jurisdiction is based upon the defendant's
'continuous and systematic' contacts with the forum
and exists even if the plaintiffs cause of action arises from
the defendant's non-forum related activities."
Remick v. Manfredy, 238 F.3d 248, 255 (3d Cir. 2001)
(citation omitted). "For a corporate defendant, the main
bases for general jurisdiction are (1) the place of
incorporation; and (2) the principal place of business."
Display Works, LLC v. Bartley, 182 F.Supp.3d 166,
173 (D.N.J. 2016) (citing Daimler AG v. Bauman, 571
U.S. 117, 137 (2014)). However, Daimler also noted
that "[a] corporation that operates in many places can
scarcely be deemed at home in all of them."
Daimler, 571 U.S. at 139 n.2O. After
Daimler, courts have recognized that "it is
'incredibly difficult to establish general jurisdiction
[over a corporation] in a forum other than the place of
incorporation or principal place of business.'"
Chavez v. Dole Food Co., 836 F.3d 205, 224 (3d Cir.
2016) (citing Monkton Ins. Servs., Ltd. v. Ritter,
768 F.3d 429, 432 (5th Cir 2014)).
under Daimler, the Court lacks general jurisdiction
over Electrolux. Electrolux was not incorporated in New
Jersey, nor is its principal place of business in this state.
"Aside from these exemplar bases, general jurisdiction
may arise in the 'exceptional case' where 'a
corporation's operations in a forum other than its formal
place of incorporation or principal place of business may be
so substantial and of such a nature as to render the
corporation at home in that State."' Display
Works, 182 F.Supp.3d at 173 (quoting Daimler,
571 U.S. at 139 n.19). Of Electrolux's 56, 000 employees,
only 8 are located in New Jersey, none of whom make strategic
corporate-level decisions. (Miller Affidavit at ¶ 5).
While Plaintiff asserts that Electrolux's advertisements
and commercials create general jurisdiction, it is
well-established that advertising within a state "does
not constitute 'continuous and substantial' contacts
with the forum state." Gehling v. St. George's
Sch. of Medicine, 773 F.2d 539, 542 (3d Cir. 1985).
Therefore, because Electrolux's contacts with New Jersey
are not so substantial or continuous or systematic, it cannot
be found that it is essentially home in this state.
Plaintiff argues that Electrolux consented to general
jurisdiction, based on its registration to do business in New
Jersey. In Display Works, the district court noted
that New Jersey's registration statutes do not expressly
state that a corporation's registration with the state
constitutes consent to personal jurisdiction. 182 F.Supp.3d
at 174-75 (citing N.J.S.A. §§ 14A:4-1(1); 4-2(1),
(3); 13-3(1); N.J. Ct. R. 4:4-4(6)). Therefore, the court
concluded, "the New Jersey statutory scheme does not
permit jurisdiction by consent by virtue of registration to
do business here or actually doing business here."
Id. at 175, 178-79; Horowitz, 2018 U.S.
Dist. LEXIS 69191, at *35-37; Boswell, 2017 U.S.
Dist. LEXIS 100708, at * 13-15; see also Dutch Run-Mays
Draft, LLC v. Wolf Block, LLP, 164 A.3d 435, 438 (
N.J.Super. App. Div. 2017). As discussed above, to conclude
that a corporation consents to personal jurisdiction based
solely on registration would be inconsistent with
Daimler, which reiterated the precedent set forth in
Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564
U.S. 915, 924-25 (2011) that general jurisdiction over a
corporation is generally limited to its place of
incorporation and principal place of business.
Daimler, 571 U.S. at 137. More importantly, the
Supreme Court also noted that early twentieth century
decisions, which followed Pennoyer 's approach
to addressing general jurisdiction over corporations,
"should not attract heavy reliance today."
Id. at 137 n.18. As such, for the reasons discussed
above, the Court finds that Electrolux's registration to
do business in New Jersey does not create general
relying on Chavez, 836 F.3d at 222-24, Plaintiff
asks the Court to transfer the case "to another district
court where personal jurisdiction would actually be
present." (Plaintiffs Brief in Opp. at 6). In
Chavez, the Third Circuit held that the district
court erred in refusing to transfer the case, where the
plaintiff identified another venue where jurisdiction exists.
Id. at 223-24. Here, however, Plaintiff has not
requested that the Court transfer the matter to any specific
district; instead, it asks the Court to make that decision
for it. However, under 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a), "[t]he
district court of a district in which is filed a case laying
venue in the wrong division or district shall dismiss, or if
it be in the interest of justice, transfer such case to any
district or division in which it could have been
brought." "[T]he Court has discretion to transfer
the case to a district where the suit could have been
brought." Auto. Rentals, Inc. v Keith
Huber, Inc., No. 09-6186, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77385,
at *4-5 (D.N.J. July 29, 2010) (citing Urrutia v.
Harrisburg Cnty. Police Dep't,91 F.3d 451, 462 (3d
Cir. 1995)). The burden of establishing that an action should
be transferred is on the party seeking it. See ...