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IN RE SKI TRAIN FIRE IN KAPRUN

October 8, 2004.

IN RE SKI TRAIN FIRE IN KAPRUN, Austria on November 11, 2000. This Document Relates To: Defendants Waagner-Biro Binder AG, Waagner-Biro Binder Beteiligungs AG, WB Holding AG, Binder Co AG.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: SHIRA SCHEINDLIN, District Judge

OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiffs, the relatives of Americans who died in a ski train fire on November 11, 2000, in Kaprun, Austria, brought several individual actions against numerous individual and corporate defendants for damages and declaratory and injunctive relief. The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ("MDL Panel") consolidated these suits for pretrial purposes before this Court.*fn1 Defendants Binder AG in Abwicklung (as successor in interest to Waagner-Biro Binder Aktiengesellschaft and Waagner-Biro AG) (collectively, "WBB"), Waagner-Biro Binder Beteiligungs AG ("WBBB"), WB Holding AG ("WBH") and Binder Co AG ("Binder") (collectively, "the Waagner defendants") now move to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and forum non conveniens. For the reasons set forth below, the Waagner defendants' motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction is granted.*fn2

  I. BACKGROUND

  A. The Moving Defendants

  WBB is an Austrian corporation located in Linz, Austria with administrative headquarters in Vienna, Austria.*fn3 Plaintiffs allege that WBB designed, engineered, and manufactured major parts of the ski train at issue in this litigation.*fn4

  WBBB is an Austrian corporation located in Vienna, Austria.*fn5 Founded on June 30, 2001, WBBB is a holding company that acquires majority interests in other companies; it conducts no active operations of any kind.*fn6

  WBH is also an Austrian holding company located in Vienna, Austria.*fn7 Although WBH's primary business is the ownership of majority interests in other companies, it also provides consulting services to its subsidiary companies.*fn8

  Binder is an Austrian corporation located in Gleisdorf, Austria.*fn9 Binder was founded on September 28, 1999, and is in the business of developing and manufacturing environmental, reprocessing, and packaging technology.*fn10 Binder is a 99.997% owned subsidiary of WBH.*fn11

  B. Procedural History

  On or about June 27, 2001, plaintiffs filed a complaint against WBB in the United States District Court for the Central District of California.*fn12 The action was subsequently transferred to this Court by the MDL Panel on November 19, 2001.*fn13 On or about December 21, 2001, plaintiffs filed a Consolidated and Amended Complaint ("Amended Complaint") against WBB and other defendants.*fn14 With this Court's permission, plaintiffs further amended the Amended Complaint to name three additional Waagner entities as defendants.*fn15 Subsequently, the Waagner defendants moved to dismiss on a number of grounds, including lack of personal jurisdiction.*fn16 This Court granted that motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction in California, transferred the case to the District of Colorado, and ordered jurisdictional discovery concerning the Waagner defendants' Colorado-based contacts.*fn17 The MDL then transferred this action back to this Court.*fn18

  II. PERSONAL JURISDICTION

  Plaintiffs argue that the Waagner defendants' contacts with Colorado are sufficient to confer jurisdiction over defendants. Plaintiffs admit, however, that "the principal basis for establishing jurisdiction over the Waagner defendants is through agency/alter ego."*fn19 Thus, plaintiffs contend that this Court may exercise jurisdiction over the Waagner defendants through Binder subsidiary Packaging Systems International ("PSI"), a Colorado-based manufacturer of industrial packaging equipment, because PSI is the agent of defendants. Finally, plaintiffs argue that the Waagner defendants operate as alter egos of each other, and that this Court should ignore the corporate form and find jurisdiction over defendants through PSI.

  A. LEGAL STANDARD

  In an MDL proceeding, "the forum state is the district court where the action was originally filed, and therefore that state's law must be applied."*fn20 Although this action was originally filed in the Central District of California, it was transferred to the District of Colorado due to lack of personal jurisdiction in California.*fn21 When a suit is transferred for lack of personal jurisdiction in the forum state of the transferor, the law of the transferee jurisdiction applies.*fn22 Thus, ...


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