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Bermudez v. Newlong Mach. Works, Ltd.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

February 18, 2015

ADAM BERMUDEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
NEWLONG MACHINE WORKS, LTD. and NEWLONG INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD., Defendants. MARIA MUNOZ, Plaintiff,
v.
NEWLONG MACHINE WORKS, LTD. and NEWLONG INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD., Defendants

Page 48

For Adam Bermudez, Plaintiff (1:13-cv-12835-NMG): Michael Kolb, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Mainetti, Mainetti & O'Connor, PC, Kingston, NY; Robert Silverstein, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Coiro, Wardi, Chinitz and Silverstein, Bronx, NY; Peter C. Obersheimer, Murphy & King, P.C., Boston, MA.

For Newlong Machine Works, Ltd, Defendant, Cross Claimant (1:13-cv-12835-NMG, 1:14-cv-11131-NMG): Peter M. Durney, LEAD ATTORNEY, Cornell & Gollub, Boston, MA; Steven B. Getzoff, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Lester Schwab Katz & Dwyer, LLP, New York, NY; Justin J. Shireman, Cornell & Gollub, Boston, MA.

For Newlong Industrial Co., Ltd, Defendant, Cross Defendant (1:13-cv-12835-NMG, 1:14-cv-11131-NMG): Amanda L. Nelson, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Cozen O'Connor, New York, NY; Richard Fama, LEAD ATTORNEY, Cozen O'Connor, New York, NY; Christopher Robert Howe, Kathleen M. Guilfoyle, Campbell, Campbell, Edwards & Conroy, PC, Boston, MA.

For Maria Munoz, Plaintiff (1:14-cv-11131-NMG): Michael Kolb, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Mainetti, Mainetti & O'Connor, PC, Kingston, NY; Robert Silverstein, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Coiro, Wardi, Chinitz and Silverstein, Bronx, NY; Peter C. Obersheimer, Murphy & King, P.C., Boston, MA.

For Ampac Paper LLC, ThirdParty Defendant (1:14-cv-11131-NMG): Alexandra R. Power, Matthew D. Sweet, Richard J. Shea, Hamel, Marcin, Dunn, Reardon & Shea, P.C., Boston, MA.

Page 49

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

Nathaniel M. Gorton, United States District Judge.

These product liability actions arise out of personal injuries to the hand allegedly caused by a bag-making machine manufactured by defendant Newlong Industrial Co., Ltd. (" Newlong Industrial" ). Plaintiffs Adam Bermudez (" Bermudez" ) and Maria Munoz (" Munoz" ) have individually filed lawsuits against Newlong Industrial and its former exclusive distributor, Newlong

Page 50

Machine Works, Ltd. (" Newlong Machine" ). Both Newlong Industrial and Newlong Machine are Japanese corporations with their principal places of business in Japan.

Pending before the Court are motions to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction filed by Newlong Industrial in both cases. For the reasons that follow, the motions will be denied.

I. Background

In 1997, representatives of Massachusetts-based Longview Fibre Company (" Longview" ) met with Newlong Industrial and its engineers at its plant in Kashiwa, Japan regarding the potential purchase of a bag-making machine (" the machine" ). That meeting was arranged by Newlong Machine and its subsidiary American-Newlong, Inc. (" American Newlong" ). In February, 2000, Longview placed an order with Newlong Machine to purchase such a machine for $860,000. Newlong Industrial completed a parts list in English for Longview's approval in May, 2000 and commenced the manufacture of the unit according to Longview's specifications later that month. In July, 2000, representatives from Longview, Newlong Machine and Newlong Industrial attended a joint inspection of the machine at Newlong Industrial's plant. Business cards confirming Longview's Waltham, Massachusetts business address were offered and received at both meetings in 1997 and 2000.

Longview subsequently sold the machine to Ampac Paper LLC (" Ampac" ) in 2004. In November, 2010, plaintiff Adam Bermudez allegedly caught his hand in the machine during the course of his employment by Ampac at its paper-bag making facility in Walden, New York. Maria Munoz allegedly suffered a similar hand injury in June, 2011 caused by the same machine during the course of her employment by Ampac at the same facility.

Although Newlong Machine was the exclusive distributor of Newlong Industrial machinery in the United States at the time of Longview's purchase, the two companies allegedly worked closely together and Newlong Industrial helped with marketing and sales of the machines by inviting customers to visit its facilities and personnel in Japan and by producing manuals and parts lists in English. The business relationship between Newlong Machine and Newlong Industrial ended in 2002.

II. Procedural history

Plaintiff Bermudez filed a complaint in November, 2013. This Court allowed plaintiff's motion for an order appointing an international process server in May, 2014. After receiving the summons, defendant Newlong Industrial moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction in September, 2014.

Plaintiff Munoz initiated her lawsuit in March, 2014. Defendant Newlong Industrial moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction in September, 2014.

Plaintiffs have submitted, as Exhibit I to an affidavit in opposition to the pending motions to dismiss, a print out of a webpage of Midwest Packaging Equipment Company, which served as the North American sales and service office of Newlong Industrial since September, 2003. The exhibit provides details regarding the relationship between the two defendants:

In April 2002, Newlong Machine Works, LTD (the marketing division of Newlong) and Newlong Industrial Company, LTD (the manufacturing division of Newlong) ended their nearly 60-year relationship due to irreconcilable differences.

Page 51

The Court held a hearing on the pending motions to dismiss in February, 2015.

III. Issue preclusion

As a preliminary matter, plaintiffs Bermudez and Munoz and defendant Newlong Machine contend that Newlong Industrial's personal jurisdiction argument is ...


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