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Albino v. Global Equipment USA, Ltd.

United States District Court, W.D. New York

January 26, 2017

ALEXANDER ALBINO, Plaintiff,
v.
GLOBAL EQUIPMENT USA, LTD., Defendant. GLOBAL EQUIPMENT USA, LTD., Defendant/Third-Party Plaintiff,
v.
H. P. NEUN COMPANY, INC., ISOWA AMERICA, INC. and ISOWA CORPORATION, Third-Party Defendants.

          DECISION AND ORDER

          HONORABLE MICHAEL A. TELESCA United States District Judge

         INTRODUCTION

         Alexander Albino (“Plaintiff”), represented by counsel, instituted this diversity action against Global Equipment USA, LTD. (“Global”), alleging causes of action based on strict products liability and negligence as the result of injuries he sustained on September 8, 2012, while he was employed at third-party defendant H.P. Neun Company, Inc. (“H.P. Neun”). Global instituted a third-party action on January 18, 2016, asserting claims for contribution and indemnification against Arvco Container Corp. (“Arvco”), H.P. Neun, ISOWA Corporation (“IC”), and ISOWA America, Inc. (“IAI”).

         On August 18, 2016, this Court issued a decision and order denying Global's motion to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction. On September 20, 2016, IC filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, and IAI filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim and for lack of personal jurisdiction. On October 12, 2016, the Court granted Global an extension of time to respond to IC's and IAI's motions. On October 26, 2016, Global timely responded to the motions to dismiss by filing a cross-motion to amend the third-party complaint. All three motions are fully submitted and ready for decision.

         As discussed more fully herein, the Court grants Global's request to conduct jurisdictional discovery; denies without prejudice IC's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction with leave to renew following jurisdictional discovery; denies without prejudice IAI's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim and for lack of personal jurisdiction with leave to renew following jurisdictional discovery; and holds in abeyance Global's cross-motion to amend the third-party complaint pending the Court's resolution of IC's and IAI's jurisdictional challenges.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         While working at H.P. Neun on September 8, 2012, Plaintiff sustained a crush-type hand injury while he was operating a Flexo Die Cutter Slotter, Model DCFS-7 (“the Machine”). The Machine was manufactured by IC in 1979. IC is a foreign corporation constituted under the laws of Japan, with its principle offices in Nagoya, Japan. IC specializes in manufacturing large scale industrial corrugators and finishing equipment for use in the manufacturing of finished cardboard products. IAI, an Arizona corporation with a domestic address in Phoenix, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of IC. IAI is responsible for new machine and parts sales for IC, as well as for providing service and support for IC in North and South America.

         In its motion to dismiss, IC avers that the Machine was ordered on November 19, 1979, by Colorado Container Corporation (“CCC”), a non-party, and was shipped to that company in May of 1980. Pursuant to the terms of the sales documents, the Machine was to be installed at CCC by Vahan A. Hussissian & Associates (“VAH & Assocs.”), also a non-party, in July of 1980. IC and IAI aver that VAH & Assocs., a former sales agent for IC, is not related in any way to IC or IAI, and is not a predecessor or successor of IC or IAI. IC also states that IAI, which was not incorporated until 2002, did not have any role in the original sale and distribution of the Machine. Neither IC nor IAI played a role in the 2008 sale of the Machine to H.P. Neun, brokered by Global. IC states that IAI is a wholly-owned subsidiary of IC, which is the IAI's sole shareholder.

         IC'S AND IAI'S MOTIONS TO DISMISS FOR LACK OF PERSONAL JURISDICTION

         I. Rule 12(b)(2) Standard

         A party may assert the defense of lack of personal jurisdiction by motion. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2). When faced with such a motion, the “plaintiff bears the burden of showing that the court has jurisdiction over the defendant.” Metro. Life Ins. Co. v. Robertson-Ceco Corp., 84 F.3d 560, 566 (2d Cir. 1996). “‘Prior to discovery, a plaintiff challenged by a jurisdiction testing motion may defeat the motion by pleading in good faith, see Fed. R. Civ. P. 11, legally sufficient allegations of jurisdiction, '” i.e., by making a ‘prima facie showing' of jurisdiction.” Jazini v. Nissan Motor Co., 148 F.3d 181, 184 (2d Cir. 1998) (citations and quotation omitted). This showing may be made through “affidavits and supporting materials[, ]” Marine Midland Bank, N.A. v. Miller, 664 F.2d 899, 904 (2d Cir. 1981), containing “an averment of facts that, if credited . . ., would suffice to establish jurisdiction over the defendant.” Robertson-Ceco Corp., 84 F.3d at 567 (quotation omitted). Where, as here, the jurisdictional “issue is addressed on affidavits, all allegations are construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and doubts are resolved in the plaintiff's favor[.]” A.I. Trade Fin., Inc. v. Petra Bank, 989 F.2d 76, 79-80 (2d Cir. 1993).

         II. General Legal Principles Regarding In Personam Jurisdiction

         “[T]he amenability of a foreign corporation to suit in a federal court in a diversity action is determined in accordance with the law of the state where the court sits, with ‘federal law' entering the picture only for the purpose of deciding whether a state's assertion of jurisdiction contravenes a constitutional guarantee.” Arrowsmith v. United Press Int'l, 320 F.2d 219, 223 (2d Cir. 1963) (in banc). Thus, a court assessing whether personal jurisdiction is authorized “must look first to the long-arm statute of the forum state, in this instance New York.” Bensusan Rest. Corp. v. King, 126 F.3d 25, 27 (2d Cir. 1997) (citation omitted). “If the exercise of jurisdiction is appropriate under that statute, the court then must decide whether such exercise comports with the requisites of due process.” Id. (citation omitted). Thus, in resolving the issue of personal jurisdiction in a diversity suit, a district court must follow a two-step process. Robertson-Ceco Corp., 84 F.3d at 567 (citation omitted).

         III. ...


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