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Federal Insurance Co. v. TAT Technologies, Ltd.

United States District Court, D. Kansas

December 1, 2017



          John W. Lungstrum United States District Judge

         This product liability action by plaintiff subrogee presently comes before the Court on defendant's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim (Doc. # 40). For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted in part and denied in part. The Court concludes that it may exercise personal jurisdiction over defendant in this action, and the motion is therefore denied with respect to that issue.[1] The Court further concludes that plaintiff's claims as subrogee of Bridgeport Associates, Inc. (Counts IV and VI) are barred by the applicable statute of limitations; those claims are hereby dismissed, and the motion is granted to that extent.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff insurer brings this action as subrogee of two companies, Bridgeport Associates, Inc. (“Bridgeport”) and Bama Air, Inc. (“Bama”). Plaintiff seeks to recover the amounts it paid as insurance proceeds for damage to two airplanes, one owned by Bridgeport and one owned by Bama. In each case, plaintiff alleges that the same part in the aircraft, a precooler, was defective, and that defendant manufactured that defective part. Plaintiff further alleges that defendant sold those parts to Cessna Aircraft Company (“Cessna”) and/or Textron Aviation, Inc. (“Textron”), Kansas companies; that Cessna and/or Textron incorporated those parts into airplanes manufactured in Kansas; and that Cessna and/or Textron then sold those airplanes to Bridgeport and Bama, located in Massachusetts and Alabama respectively. In this action, plaintiff asserts claims against defendant sounding in strict liability and negligence with respect to the Bridgeport plane (Counts IV and VI) and with respect to the Bama plane (Counts I and III).[2]

         II. Personal Jurisdiction

         Although a plaintiff bears the burden of establishing personal jurisdiction over a defendant, see OMI Holdings, Inc. v. Royal Ins. Co., 149 F.3d 1086, 1091 (10th Cir. 1998), in the preliminary stages of litigation this burden is “light.” See Intercon, Inc. v. Bell Atlantic Internet Solutions, Inc., 205 F.3d 1244, 1247 (10th Cir. 2000) (quoting Wenz v. Memery Crystal, 55 F.3d 1503, 1505 (10th Cir.1995)). Where, as here, there has been no evidentiary hearing, and the motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction “is decided on the basis of affidavits and other written material, the plaintiff need only make a prima facie showing that jurisdiction exists.” See Id. The allegations in the complaint must be taken as true to the extent they are uncontroverted by the defendant's affidavits. See id. Moreover, if the parties present conflicting affidavits, “all factual disputes must be resolved in the plaintiff's favor, and the plaintiff's prima facie showing is sufficient notwithstanding the contrary presentation by the moving party.” See id.

         In Marcus Food Co. v. DiPanfilo, 671 F.3d 1159 (10th Cir. 2011), the Tenth Circuit reaffirmed the following standards governing this Court's analysis of the issue of personal jurisdiction over a defendant:

Where a federal lawsuit is based on diversity of citizenship, the court's jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant is determined by the law of the forum state. The party seeking to establish personal jurisdiction over a foreign defendant must make two showings: first, that the exercise of jurisdiction is sanctioned by the state's long-arm statute; and second, that it comports with the due process requirements of the Fourteenth Amendment. Kansas's long-arm statute is construed liberally so as to allow jurisdiction to the full extent permitted by due process principles. Consequently, this court need not conduct a statutory analysis apart from the due process analysis.
The due process analysis is also two-fold: First, [the defendant] must have “minimum contacts” with the forum state, demonstrating that he purposefully availed himself of the protections or benefits of the state's laws and should reasonably anticipate being haled into court there. . . .
If [the defendant] is found to have the requisite minimum contacts with Kansas, then we proceed to the second step in the due process analysis: ensuring that the exercise of jurisdiction over him does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice. [The defendant] bears the burden at this stage to present a compelling case that the presence of some other considerations would render jurisdiction unreasonable.

See Id. at 1166-67 (citations and internal quotations omitted).

Purposeful availment requires actions by the Defendant which create a substantial connection with the forum state. . . . The purpose of this requirement is to ensure that a defendant will not be subject to the laws of a jurisdiction solely as the result of random, fortuitous or attenuated contacts, or of the unilateral activity of another party or a third person.

See Employers Mutual Cas. Co. v. Bartile Roofs, Inc., 618 F.3d 1153, 1160 (10th Cir. 2010) (citations and internal quotations omitted).

         The Supreme Court has recognized two types of personal jurisdiction: general jurisdiction, which allows for jurisdiction over the defendant for any claim; and specific jurisdiction, which allows for jurisdiction over the defendant only for suits arising out of or related to the defendant's contacts with the forum state. See Bristol-Myers SquibbCo. v. Superior Ct. of Calif., 137 S.Ct. 1773, 1779-80 (2017). Plaintiff does not argue that defendant, an Israeli company, has such contacts with Kansas that it is subject to general jurisdiction here. See Id. at 1780 (corporation is subjection to general jurisdiction where it is fairly regarded as at home). Thus, the Court considers only whether it may exercise specific jurisdiction over defendant with respect to these particular claims. Moreover, ...

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