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Swift Transportation Co. of Arizona, LLC v. Rtl Enterprises, LLC

United States District Court, N.D. New York

February 3, 2015

SWIFT TRANSPORTATION CO. OF ARIZONA, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
RTL ENTERPRISES, LLC et al., Defendants.

DANIEL W. COFFEY, ESQ., Bowitch, Coffey Law Firm, Albany, NY, for the Plaintiff.

THERESA B. MARANGAS, ESQ., RTL Enterprises, LLC, Wilson, Elser Law Firm, Albany, NY, JACOB F. LAMME, ESQ., JOHN J. PRIVITERA, ESQ., East Coast Systems Engineering, Inc., McNamee, Lochner Law Firm, Albany, NY, for the Defendants.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

GARY L. SHARPE, Chief District Judge.

I. Introduction

Plaintiff Swift Transportation Co. of Arizona, LLC commenced this diversity action against defendants RTL Enterprises, LLC and East Coast Systems Engineering, Inc. alleging state law claims for negligence and breach of contract related to two separate asbestos leaks. ( See generally Compl., Dkt. No. 1, Attach. 1 at 5-11.) Pending are RTL's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, (Dkt. No. 7), East Coast's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, (Dkt. No. 9), and Swift's cross motion seeking leave to amend its complaint, limited jurisdictional discovery, and/or transfer to another forum, (Dkt. Nos. 13, 16). For the reasons that follow, defendants' motions are granted, and Swift's cross motion is denied.

II. Background

A. Facts[1]

On or about June 26, 2006, Swift, a Delaware limited liability company with a principal place of business in Arizona, and East Coast, a Massachusetts corporation with a principal place of business in Massachusetts, "entered into a Transportation Services Agreement... whereby East Coast retained Swift to transport freight." (Compl. ¶¶ 1, 3, 5.) Pursuant to that agreement, East Coast was obligated to "fully indemnify Swift for any liabilities and losses incurred as a result of the negligence of East Coast." ( Id. ¶ 6.) In both August 2011 and July 2012, East Coast sought for Swift to transport trailers containing barrels of asbestos from a facility in Portland, Connecticut to Minera Enterprises, located in Waynesburg, Ohio. ( Id. ¶¶ 7-8, 14.) The facility where the trailers were initially located belonged to RTL, a Connecticut limited liability company with a principal place of business in Connecticut. ( Id. ¶¶ 2, 7-8.) East Coast and RTL had "a contractual relationship" whereby "East Coast [had] retained RTL to load contents onto trailers at RTL's facility in Portland, Connecticut." ( Id. ¶¶ 10-11.) Thus, "RTL and/or East Coast were solely responsible for assuring the contents contained within the trailers Swift was being asked to haul were secured and were safe for interstate transport." ( Id. ¶ 16.)

In both August 2011 and July 2012, in the course of transporting the trailers, Swift drivers "parked at the Pilot Travel Center in Newburgh, New York, " and "noticed leaks occurring from the trailers." ( Id. ¶¶ 18, 20.) On each occasion, the trailers were "in the possession of Swift drivers for two hours or less when the leaks were discovered, " and, upon their discovery, the leaks of asbestos were reported to Swift and the appropriate governmental authorities. ( Id. ¶¶ 21-23.) Swift then "took steps to remediate the asbestos, including retaining hazmat companies to safely clean the area and transfer the remaining contents to other trailers, " ( id. ¶ 25), causing Swift to incur expenses totaling roughly $190, 000, ( id. ¶¶ 26-27). Swift alleges that "[t]he leaks were caused solely by the acts and omissions of... [d]efendants in packing and loading the asbestos onto the trailers." ( Id. ¶ 24.)

B. Procedural History

This action was removed to this court from New York State Supreme Court in Albany County on July 18, 2014. (Dkt. No. 1.) Shortly thereafter, both RTL and East Coast filed the pending pre-answer motions to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. (Dkt. Nos. 7, 9.) In response, Swift filed its cross motion seeking leave to file an amended complaint and transfer of venue to the Southern District of New York. (Dkt. No. 13.)

III. Standard of Review

When a defendant calls personal jurisdiction into question by invoking Rule 12(b)(2), the plaintiff bears the burden of satisfying the court that it has jurisdiction over the moving defendant. See MacDermid, Inc. v. Deiter, 702 F.3d 725, 727 (2d Cir. 2012). In the absence of an evidentiary hearing, the plaintiff's "allegations in the complaint must be taken as true to the extent they are uncontroverted by the defendant's affidavits [and other written materials]." Id. (quoting Seetransport Wiking Trader Schiffarhtsgesellschaft MBH & Co., Kommanditgesellschaft v. Navimpex Centrala Navala, 989 F.2d 572, 580 (2d Cir. 1993)).

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the court is empowered with discretion to permit limited jurisdictional discovery to ferret out information on the jurisdictional issue. See Jazini v. Nissan Motor Co., 148 F.3d 181, 185-86 (2d Cir. 1998). "[P]rior to discovery, a plaintiff challenged by a jurisdiction testing motion may defeat the motion by pleading in good faith, legally sufficient allegations of jurisdiction, i.e., by ...


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