United States District Court, S.D. New York
OPINION AND ORDER
LORNA G. SCHOFIELD, District Judge.
This action arises out of injuries that Plaintiffs Kenneth Davidson and Thomas Farmer allegedly sustained while aboard an aircraft that malfunctioned. The Complaint raises claims alleging the improper design, manufacture, assembly, maintenance or repair of the aircraft or its component parts against fifteen defendant companies, many of whom Plaintiffs have now voluntarily dismissed from the case. Defendant Fairchild Controls Corporation ("Fairchild Controls") seeks dismissal under Rule 12(b)(2), arguing that the Court lacks personal jurisdiction over it. For the following reasons, Fairchild Controls' motion is denied, but the case is transferred to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division.
The facts below are taken from the Complaint and the parties' submissions on this motion, unless otherwise stated. The allegations in the Complaint are assumed to be true for purposes of this motion.
I. THE FUME INCIDENT
On May 31, 2011, Plaintiffs Kenneth Davidson, a sensor operator, and Thomas Farmer, a pilot, were crew aboard a Turbo Commander aircraft. At an altitude of approximately 25, 000 feet, as the aircraft was flying over the State of New York, the aircraft experienced a "major fume event, " emitting clouds of oil fumes and mist into the cabin. Farmer initiated a rapid descent to 8, 000 feet to depressurize the aircraft and landed the plane safely. The Complaint alleges, "on information and belief, that drops of the engine's lubrication oil were leaking out of the aircraft's engine into the bleed air-ducting system, which caused the cabin of the aircraft to fill with smoke and fumes." Davidson and Farmer allegedly were seriously injured as a result.
Plaintiff Jana Davidson is Davidson's wife, and Plaintiffs JCD and KSD are the Davidsons' minor children. Hereafter, "Davidson" refers to Plaintiff Kenneth Davidson.
II. FAIRCHILD CONTROLS
The Complaint alleges that Fairchild Controls manufactured the aircraft's air cycle machine ("ACM") and that the ACM was defective in its design, manufacture or assembly in violation of New York Products Liability Law.
Defendant Fairchild Controls is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Maryland. It designs and manufactures ACMs in Maryland. It has never manufactured, sold or distributed ACMs in New York. Between 2011 and 2013, Fairchild Control's total sales to customers in New York, as a percentage of overall sales, ranged from approximately 1.1% in 2011 to 3.3% in 2013, and the products sold were not ACMs. Over the past 15 years, Fairchild Controls was not registered to do business in New York; did not maintain any offices, employees or representatives in New York; and did not have any distribution agreements contemplating sales of ACMs in New York. Also, Fairchild Controls did not advertise or market ACMs to customers in New York or make any decisions concerning the issuance of ACM warnings or operational procedures in New York.
"On a Rule 12(b)(2) motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, the plaintiff bears the burden of showing that the court has [personal] jurisdiction over the defendant." Metro. Life Ins. Co. v. Robertson-Ceco Corp., 84 F.3d 560, 566 (2d Cir. 1996) (citing Robinson v. Overseas Military Sales Corp., 21 F.3d 502, 507 (2d Cir. 1994)). "Prior to discovery, a plaintiff may defeat a motion to dismiss based on legally sufficient allegations of jurisdiction." Id. (citation omitted). Where "a court relies on pleadings and affidavits, rather than conducting a full-blown evidentiary hearing, ' the plaintiff need only make a prima facie showing that the court possesses personal jurisdiction over the defendant." Distefano v. Carozzi N. Am., Inc., 286 F.3d 81, 84 (2d Cir. 2001) (citation omitted); accord Bank Brussels Lambert v. Fiddler Gonzalez & Rodriguez, 171 F.3d 779, 784 (2d Cir. 1999). "Such a showing entails making legally sufficient allegations of jurisdiction, ' including an averment of facts that, if credited[, ] would suffice to establish jurisdiction over the defendant.'" Penguin Grp. (USA) Inc. v. Am. Buddha, 609 F.3d 30, 35 (2d Cir. 2010) (alteration in original) (citation omitted).