United States District Court, D. New Jersey, Camden Vicinage
HELEN THOMAS-FISH, Individually and as Executrix of the Estate of Robert C. Fish, Plaintiff,
AETNA STEEL PRODUCTS CORP., et al., Defendants.
KONIGSBERG, LLP By: Amber Rose Long, Esq. Joseph J. Mandia,
Esq. Counsel for Plaintiff
McGIVNEY, KLUGER & COOK, P.C. By: William D. Sanders,
Esq. Counsel for Defendant Sonic Industries, Inc.
OPINION [DKT. NO. 58, 60]
RENÉE MARIE BUMB UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
JUDGE RENÉE MARIE BUMB:
matter comes before the Court upon Defendant Sonic
Industries, Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss for lack of personal
jurisdiction pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2) [Docket No.
60]. The issue raised by the motion is whether Plaintiff
Helen Thomas-Fish has pled sufficient facts supporting this
Court's exercise of specific personal jurisdiction over
Defendant Sonic Industries on a successor liability theory.
The Court holds that Plaintiff has not. Accordingly, the
Motion to Dismiss will be granted.
Complaint sparsely alleges “Plaintiff's Decedent
[Robert Fish] was exposed to asbestos while working in 1960
as a civilian at New York Shipbuilding and Drydock located in
Camden, New Jersey[.]” (Compl. ¶ 4) Robert Fish
died in 2016, allegedly from complications of mesothelioma
caused by exposure to asbestos. (Id. ¶ 2)
Complaint identifies a laundry list of Defendants,
“[o]ne, some or all” of whom are alleged to be
“manufacturers, suppliers, installers or distributors
of asbestos fibers, dust, minerals, particles and other
finished and unfinished asbestos-containing products to which
Mr. Fish was exposed and/or are otherwise liable for injuries
resulting from work performed and/or products supplied by the
joiner contractor that installed asbestos-containing paneling
during the construction of the NS Savannah at NY Ship [sic]
in Camden, New Jersey.” (Compl. ¶ 6) One such
Defendant is “RBC Sonic, ” which Defendant Sonic
Industries asserts is not a legal entity but a name
“occasionally used informally by Sonic Industries, Inc.
employees.” (Feeney Decl. ¶ 20)
undisputed for purposes of the instant motion that Sonic
Industries is not subject to general jurisdiction in the
State of New Jersey. Sonic Industries is incorporated in
California and maintains its principal place of business in
Connecticut. (Feeney Decl. ¶¶ 6-7) Plaintiff served
the Summons and Complaint in this case upon Sonic Industries
at its manufacturing facility located in Torrance,
California. (Id. ¶ 8)
motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2), the plaintiff bears
the burden of establishing the court's jurisdiction over
the defendant. Miller Yacht Sales, Inc. v. Smith,
384 F.3d 93, 97 (3d Cir. 2004). Although the plaintiff must
ultimately prove personal jurisdiction by a preponderance of
the evidence, such a showing is unnecessary at the early
stages of litigation. Mellon Bank (E.) PSFS, Nat.
Ass'n v. Farino, 960 F.2d 1217, 1223 (3d Cir. 1992).
Instead, the plaintiff must “present[ ] a prima facie
case for the exercise of personal jurisdiction by
establishing with reasonable particularity sufficient
contacts between the defendant and the forum state.”
Id. at 1223 (citations omitted). Once the plaintiff
meets his or her burden, the burden shifts to the defendant
to establish the presence of other considerations that would
render the exercise of personal jurisdiction unreasonable.
Carteret Sav. Bank, FA v. Shushan, 954 F.2d 141, 150
(3d Cir. 1992) (citation omitted).
undisputed that Sonic Industries, Inc. was not incorporated
until 1966, therefore it “did not exist in 1960.”
(Feeney Decl. ¶¶ 5-6). Thus, it must be that
Plaintiff does not assert that Sonic Industries, itself,
“manufacture[d], supplie[d], installe[d] or
distribut[ed]” any asbestos-containing product to which
Mr. Fish was exposed, but rather, that Sonic Industries is
“otherwise liable for injuries resulting from work
performed and/or products supplied by the joiner contractor
that installed asbestos-containing paneling.” (Compl.
Sonic Industries is alleged to be “otherwise
liable” is not set forth in the Complaint, nor does the
Complaint contain any allegations as to personal
jurisdiction. In opposition to the instant motion however,
Plaintiff asserts that Sonic Industries is subject to
personal jurisdiction in New Jersey “as successor to
the joiner contractor that performed the work that injured
Mr. Fish.” (Opposition Brief, p. 8) It is not clear