United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. CASPER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case arises out of a May 31, 2014 airplane crash that
occurred in Bedford, Massachusetts during the takeoff
rotation of a Gulfstream G-IV aircraft, killing all
passengers onboard. Plaintiffs Drew Katz and Melissa Silver
(“Plaintiffs”), individually and as the
co-personal representatives of the estate of Lewis A. Katz, a
passenger on the flight, have filed this lawsuit against
numerous defendants including Gulfstream Aerospace
Corporation (Georgia) (“Gulfstream Georgia”),
Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation (Delaware)
(“Gulfstream Delaware”), Gulfstream Aerospace
Services Corporation (“Gulfstream Services”) and
Rockwell Collins, Inc. (“Rockwell”), alleging
claims of wrongful death and conscious suffering predicated
on theories of negligence and breach of the implied warranty
of merchantability. D. 1-3, 1-4. Plaintiffs have also brought
claims under Mass. Gen. Laws c. 93A. D. 1-3, 1-4. Rockwell,
Gulfstream Services, Gulfstream Georgia and Gulfstream
Delaware have all moved to dismiss for lack of personal
jurisdiction. D. 64, 67, 70, 82. For the reasons set forth
below, the Court GRANTS all but Gulfstream Services'
motion to dismiss.
Standard of Review
ruling on a motion to dismiss for lack of personal
jurisdiction without holding an evidentiary hearing, a
district court must apply the prima facie standard of review.
United States v. Swiss Am. Bank, Ltd., 274 F.3d 610,
618 (1st Cir. 2001). Under the prima facie standard,
Plaintiffs must “demonstrate the existence of every
fact required to satisfy both the forum's long arm
statute and the Due Process Clause of the Constitution,
” to meet their burden pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(2). Id. (citing United Elec. Radio and
Mach. Workers of Am. v. 163 Pleasant St. Corp., 987 F.2d
39, 44 (1st Cir. 1993)). The Court considers the facts
alleged in the pleadings as well as the parties'
supplemental filings. Sawtelle v. Farrell, 70 F.3d
1381, 1385 (1st Cir. 1995); Ticketmaster-N.Y., Inc. v.
Alioto, 26 F.3d 201, 203 (1st Cir. 1994). The Court will
“take specific facts affirmatively alleged by the
plaintiff as true (whether or not disputed) and construe them
in the light most congenial to the plaintiff's
jurisdictional claim.” Mass. Sch. of Law at
Andover, Inc. v. Am. Bar Ass'n, 142 F.3d 26, 34 (1st
Cir. 1998). In doing so, the Court will “not
“credit conclusory allegations or draw farfetched
inferences, ” Ticketmaster-N.Y., 26 F.3d at
203, and must keep in mind that Plaintiffs need to “do
more than simply surmise the existence of a favorable factual
scenario; [they] must verify the facts alleged through
materials of evidentiary quality.” Killion v.
Commonwealth Yachts, 421 F.Supp.2d 246, 252 (D. Mass.
2006) (quoting Barrett v. Lombardi, 239 F.3d 23, 27
(1st Cir. 2001)). “Thus, allegations in a lawyer's
brief or legal memorandum are insufficient, even under the
relatively relaxed prima facie standard, to establish
jurisdictional facts.” Id. (quoting
Barrett, 239 F.3d at 27). The Court is also required
to “add to the mix facts put forward by the defendants,
to the extent that they are uncontradicted.” Mass.
Sch. of Law, 142 F.3d at 34.
allegations are taken from the operative complaint and the
affidavits filed by Gulfstream Services, Gulfstream Georgia,
Gulfstream Delaware and Rockwell in support of their motions
to dismiss. For the purposes of the instant motions, the
Court presumes the allegations put forth by the Plaintiffs to
be true and also considers the Defendants' uncontradicted
factual allegations. The Court has already extensively laid
out the alleged facts in this case in its December 12, 2016
Order regarding Plaintiffs' motion to remand, D. 135, and
incorporates the articulation of those facts into this
Memorandum and Order. Thus, for present purposes, the Court
only recounts facts relevant to the motions to dismiss of
Gulfstream Georgia, Gulfstream Delaware, Gulfstream Services
31, 2014, a Gulfstream G-IV aircraft, Serial Number N121JM,
(the “G-IV”) crashed during its takeoff rotation
as it was departing from Laurence G. Hanscom Field in
Bedford, Massachusetts. D. 1-2 ¶¶ 1, 59. The
accident resulted in the deaths of seven people, including
Lewis A. Katz, his three companions, the flight attendant and
pilots. Id. ¶¶ 1, 8, 69.
Georgia, a corporation organized and existing under the laws
of the state of Georgia, designed and manufactured the G-IV.
D. 66 ¶¶ 3, 7. Gulfstream Georgia neither has any
design or manufacturing facilities in Massachusetts nor is it
registered or authorized to do business in the Commonwealth.
Id. ¶¶ 4, 5. No agent for service of
process exists for Gulfstream Georgia in Massachusetts and
Gulfstream Georgia has not consented to jurisdiction in
Massachusetts. Id. ¶ 4. In addition, Gulfstream
Georgia does not utilize a network of distributors or
retailers in the sale of its aircraft, instead opting to sell
its aircraft directly to consumers. Id. ¶ 6.
The G-IV at issue here was sold by Gulfstream Georgia to Rim
Air LLC, a Delaware corporation, in 2000. D. 66 ¶ 9; D.
66-1. Rim Air LLC subsequently sold the G-IV to SK Travel LLC
(“SK Travel”), a North Carolina corporation that
is a separate defendant in this case, in 2007. D. 66 ¶
10; D. 66-2. Prior to the initial sale of the G-IV,
Gulfstream Georgia never tested, operated or serviced the
aircraft in Massachusetts. D. 66 ¶ 8. At present,
Plaintiffs have filed suit in Georgia state court against
Gulfstream Georgia that is a near-identical lawsuit to the
instant action. D. 71 at 2.
Delaware, the parent holding company of Gulfstream Georgia
and Gulfstream Services, is not incorporated in Massachusetts
and does not have its principal place of business in
Massachusetts. D. 69 ¶¶ 3-4. Additionally,
Gulfstream Delaware is not registered or authorized to do
business in Massachusetts, does not have an agent for service
of process here and has never consented to jurisdiction in
Massachusetts. Id. ¶ 8. Gulfstream Delaware did
not design or manufacture the particular G-IV that crashed in
Bedford, nor has it designed or manufactured any other G-IV
or any other component of a G-IV aircraft. Id.
Services is the wholly-owned subsidiary of Gulfstream
Delaware and is organized under the laws of the state of
Delaware. D. 72 ¶¶ 3-4. Gulfstream Services'
corporate headquarters are in Georgia. Id. ¶ 3.
Like Gulfstream Delaware, Gulfstream Services did not design
or manufacture the particular G-IV that crashed in Bedford,
nor has it designed or manufactured any other G-IV or any
other component of a G-IV aircraft. Id. ¶ 6.
Gulfstream Services has also never been the type certificate
holder for the Gulfstream G-IV product line, which was
instead held by Gulfstream Georgia. Id. ¶ 5.
Rather, Gulfstream Services specializes in the repair and
maintenance of Gulfstream aircraft and it has several service
facilities located throughout the country, including one in
Westfield, Massachusetts (the “Westfield
Facility”). Id. ¶ 7. Gulfstream
Services' business records reveal that employees from the
Westfield Facility provided maintenance to the G-IV on a
single occasion in January 2013. Id. ¶ 8; D.
72-1. On that occasion, the G-IV's auxiliary power unit
(“APU”) was malfunctioning and, at the request of
SK Travel, two technicians were sent from the Westfield
Facility to repair the issue in Delaware. D. 72 ¶ 8.
designed, manufactured and sold the G-IV's interlock
mechanism and gust lock at issue in this case. D. 1-4
¶¶ 354, 358. Rockwell does not have an office in
Massachusetts; it has never had a principal place of business
in Massachusetts; it does not maintain bank accounts in
Massachusetts; nor has it ever manufactured any component of
the gust lock system in Massachusetts or sold, marketed or
distributed the gust lock system to a Massachusetts customer.
D. 83-1 ¶¶ 5-11. Rockwell delivered the last
pedestal assembly in 2004 and the last G-IV sector assembly
in 2008 and neither was to Massachusetts. Id. ¶
11. In 2001, Rockwell registered as a foreign corporation to
do business in Massachusetts and also identified a registered
agent in the Commonwealth. Id. ¶ 12. From 2001
until 2005, Rockwell leased property in Massachusetts, but it
has not leased any property since that time, and does not own
property in Massachusetts. Id. ¶ 13.
Additionally, for one month-from January 1, 2013 until
February 1, 2013-Rockwell had one employee, out of its 19,
000 employees, who was located in Massachusetts. Id.
filed an amended complaint in this action on May 27, 2016 in
Suffolk Superior Court. D. 1-4. The case was removed to this
Court on July 1, 2016. D. 1. Gulfstream Services, Gulfstream
Georgia and Gulfstream Delaware subsequently filed motions to
dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. D. 64, 67, 70.
Rockwell also filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal
jurisdiction. D. 82. On July 29, 2016, Plaintiffs filed a
motion to remand this case to state court, D. 86, and this
Court otherwise stayed the case pending resolution of that
matter. D. 112. After denying the motion to remand, D. 135,
the Court heard the parties on the pending motions on
February 9, 2017 and took these matters under advisement. D.
Court's personal jurisdiction over a defendant may derive
from either general or specific jurisdiction. Plaintiffs do
not maintain that this Court has general jurisdiction over
Rockwell, Gulfstream Services, Gulfstream Georgia or
Gulfstream Delaware and, as such, the Court must only
determine whether Plaintiffs have asserted facts sufficient
to exercise specific jurisdiction over these defendants. To
establish specific personal jurisdiction, Plaintiffs
“must demonstrate that the Massachusetts long-arm
statute grants jurisdiction over [them] and that the exercise
of that jurisdiction comports with the Due Process Clause of
the Fifth Amendment.” Adelson v. Hananel, 510
F.3d 43, 48 (1st Cir. 2007). The First Circuit, however, has
“construed the Massachusetts long-arm statute as being
coextensive with the limits permitted by the
Constitution.” Adelson v. Hananel, 652 F.3d
75, 80-81 (1st Cir. 2011) (footnote omitted). It is,
therefore, acceptable to “sidestep the statutory
inquiry and proceed directly to the constitutional
analysis.” Daynard v. Ness, Motley, Loadholt,
Richardson & Poole, P.A., 290 F.3d 42, 52 (1st Cir.
process requires the Court to determine whether the defendant
has maintained “certain minimum contacts” with
the forum state “such that the maintenance of the suit
does not offend ‘traditional notions of fair play and
substantial justice.'” Int'l Shoe Co. v.
Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945). Accordingly,
“[t]he accepted mode of analysis for questions
involving personal jurisdiction concentrates on the quality
and quantity of the potential defendant's contacts with
the forum.” Phillips Exeter Acad. v. Howard
Phillips Fund, Inc., 196 F.3d 284, 288 (1st Cir. 1999).
The specific jurisdiction inquiry is threefold: relatedness,
purposeful availment and reasonableness. Astro-Med, Inc.
v. Nihon Kohden Am., Inc., 591 F.3d 1, 9 (1st Cir. 2009)
(citing N. Am. Catholic Educ. Programming Found., Inc. v.
Cardinale, 567 F.3d 8, 16 (1st Cir. 2009); N.
Laminate Sales, Inc. v. Davis, 403 F.3d 14, 25 (1st Cir.
2005)). The Court must find that all three are present to
assert personal jurisdiction over a defendant. See
id. Accordingly, the Court shall now address this
three-prong standard as to each of the Defendants.
allege no facts that would satisfy the relatedness prong as
it pertains to Rockwell. The relatedness inquiry focuses on
whether “the claim underlying the litigation . . .
directly arise[s] out of, or relate[s] to, the
defendant's forum-state activities.” Newman v.
Eur. Aeronautic Def. & Space Co. EADS N.V., No.
09-cv-10138-DJC, 2011 WL 2413792, at *4 (D. Mass. June 16,
2011) (alterations in original) (quoting Astro-Med,
591 F.3d at 9). This is a “flexible, relaxed standard,
” id. (quoting Astro-Med, 591 F.3d at
9), but still requires a causal relationship between
Plaintiffs' claim and Defendants' forum-related
conduct. Harlow v. Children's Hosp., 432 F.3d
50, 61 (1st Cir. 2005). Though not precisely proximate cause,
“due process demands something like a ‘proximate
cause' nexus.” Id. (quoting Cambridge
Literary Props. Ltd. v. W. Goebel Porzellanfabrik
G.m.b.H & Co. Kg., 295 F.3d 59, 65 (1st Cir. 2002)).
“[T]he defendant's in-state conduct must form an
important, or [at least] material, element of proof in the
plaintiff's case.” Id. at 61 (alteration
in original) (quoting United Elec., Radio & Mach.
Workers of Am. V. 163 Pleasant St. Corp., 960 F.2d 1080,
1089 (1st Cir. 1992)). Furthermore, a court may have specific
jurisdiction in situations where there is only a single
contact with the forum state, but that contact must be
“meaningful.” Nowak v. Tak How Invs.,
Ltd., 94 F.3d 708, 717 (1st Cir. 1996) (citing
Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 475 n.
18 (1985); McGee v. Int'l Life Ins. Co., 355
U.S. 220, 223 (1957)).
Plaintiffs' claims against Rockwell are premised on the
allegation that the G-IV's gust lock system, which the
pilots had failed to disengage prior to takeoff and which
allegedly contributed to the crash, contained “design
defects, manufacturing defects, and inadequate and
unreasonably dangerous instructions and warnings.” D.
1-4 ¶¶ 354, 358. Rockwell, however, has never
manufactured any part of the gust lock system in
Massachusetts, nor has it marketed, sold or distributed this
component in the Commonwealth. D. 83-1 ¶¶ 9-10.
Plaintiffs have not contested these facts. Although Rockwell
registered as a foreign corporation to do business in
Massachusetts and briefly rented space and had a single
employee here, id. ¶¶ 12-14, these limited
contacts do not relate to Plaintiffs' allegations
regarding the gust lock system. Harrell v. Repp, 759
F.Supp.2d 128, 131 (D. Mass. 2010) (finding no personal
jurisdiction where “[n]one of [Defendant's]
supposed contacts is connected to the litigation”). As
such, the Court cannot conclude that any of Plaintiffs'
claims against Rockwell relate to Rockwell's alleged
negligence or misconduct in Massachusetts.
Purposeful Availment and ...