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Roberts-Gordon LLC v. Pektron PLC

United States District Court, W.D. New York

February 13, 2014

ROBERTS-GORDON LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
PEKTRON PLC, Defendant

For Roberts Gordon, L.L.C., Plaintiff: Linda H. Joseph, Schroder, Joseph & Associates, LLP, Buffalo, NY.

For Pektron PLC, also known as Pektron QA, Defendant: Mark Andrew Molloy, LEAD ATTORNEY, Nixon Peabody LLP, Buffalo, NY.

Page 477

DECISION AND ORDER

WILLIAM M. SKRETNY, Chief United States District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Invoking this Court's diversity jurisdiction, Roberts-Gordon LLC, with its principal place of business in Buffalo, New York, brings this breach-of-contract action against its fellow merchant, Pektron PLC, a corporation organized under the laws of the United Kingdom with its principal place of business in the U.K. Pektron now moves to dismiss this action for lack of personal jurisdiction. For the following reasons, that motion is denied.

Page 478

II. BACKGROUND

Roberts-Gordon manufactures commercial heating and air conditioning equipment in Buffalo, New York. In July 2008, Pektron, an electronics manufacturer with its factory and corporate offices in Derby, England, issued a quotation to Roberts-Gordon for the sale of ignition control units. In the beginning of September of that year, Roberts-Gordon, in response to the quote, issued a purchase order for the ignition units. This resulted in the first of many transactions. Over the course of their relationship, Roberts-Gordon bought " tens of thousands" of ignition units. (Potts Aff., ¶ 17; Docket No. 9-1.) The units were made in Derby, and picked up " FOB" in Derby by agents of Roberts-Gordon. In other words, Pektron was not responsible for the delivery of the goods; rather, Roberts-Gordon was responsible for collecting them in Derby. (Id., ¶ 24.)

At some point in 2012, this apparently healthy business relationship turned sour. Roberts-Gordon now alleges that Pektron sold it defective ignition units and has " refused to honor its contractual obligations." (Compl., ¶ 11; Docket No. 1.) Instead, Pektron has " demanded that an outstanding invoice balance of $38,000 be paid by Plaintiff before [it] would even discuss making Plaintiff whole." (Id.)

Pektron now moves to dismiss the complaint, arguing that this Court lacks personal jurisdiction over it.

III. DISCUSSION

A United States district court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant if the defendant " is subject to the jurisdiction of a court of general jurisdiction in the state where the district court is located." Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(k)(1)(A); Spiegel v. Schulmann, 604 F.3d 72, 76 (2d Cir. 2010). Jurisdiction conferred by the state, however, is constrained by the Due Process Clause, which " gives a degree of predictability to the legal system that allows potential defendants to structure their primary conduct with some minimum assurance as to where that conduct will and will not render them liable to suit." See World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 297, 100 S.Ct. 559, 567, 62 L.Ed.2d 490 (1980); see also Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 131 S.Ct. 2846, 2851-52 180 L.Ed.2d 796 (2011) (" A state court's assertion of jurisdiction exposes defendants to the State's coercive power, and is therefore subject to review for compatibility with the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause." ). Thus, this Court can exercise jurisdiction over an out-of-state defendant provided that it is permitted by both New York State's statutes and the strictures of due process. See Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 473, 105 S.Ct. 2174, 85 L.Ed.2d 528 (1985).

There are two types of personal jurisdiction: general and specific. Licci ex rel. Licci v. Lebanese Canadian Bank, SAL, 673 F.3d 50, 60 n.9 (2d Cir. 2012). " General jurisdiction is authorized where the defendant's 'affiliations with the State are so 'continuous and systematic' as to render it essentially at home in the forum State.'" Id. (quoting Goodyear, 131 S.Ct. at 2851). This type of jurisdiction is codified in New York under N.Y. C.P.L.R. § 301. Id.

" 'Specific jurisdiction,' however, 'depends on an affiliation between the forum and the underlying controversy, principally, activity or an occurrence that takes place in the forum State and is therefore subject to the State's regulation.'" Id. (quoting Goodyear, 131 S.Ct. at 2851). Jurisdiction of ...


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