United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S
MOTION TO DISMISS FOR LACK OF PERSONAL JURISDICTION
Gail Dein United States Magistrate Judge
James Whitley, is a resident of Massachusetts. He has brought
this action against Linde Heavy Truck Division Ltd.
(“LHTD”), a company organized under the laws of
the United Kingdom, with its principal place of business in
South Wales. Mr. Whitley was seriously injured while working
as a Longshoreman/Harbor Worker at the Conley Terminal
located in South Boston, Massachusetts on August 31, 2012. At
that time, a forklift truck he was operating allegedly
flipped over and crushed his leg. In his Amended Complaint
(“Am. Compl.”) (Docket No. 58), Mr. Whitley
alleges that the forklift truck was manufactured by LHTD and
was defective. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 1, 8, 12). He has
asserted claims against LHTD for negligence (Count I) and
breach of implied warranty of merchantability (Count II).
matter is before the court on “Defendant, Linde Heavy
Truck Division Ltd.'s, Motion to Dismiss for Lack of
Personal Jurisdiction.” (Docket No. 63). By its motion,
LHTD contends that all of Mr. Whitley's claims must be
dismissed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(2) because LHTD lacks sufficient contacts with
Massachusetts to support this court's exercise of
personal jurisdiction over it. As described below, this court
finds that LHTD is not subject to this court's
jurisdiction. Accordingly, and for all the reasons detailed
herein, LHTD's motion to dismiss for lack of personal
jurisdiction is ALLOWED.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
of Review of Record
a motion to dismiss for want of personal jurisdiction, the
plaintiff ultimately bears the burden of persuading the court
that jurisdiction exists.” Astro-Med, Inc. v. Nihon
Kohden Am., Inc., 591 F.3d 1, 8 (1st Cir. 2009), and
cases cited. “When a district court rules on a motion
to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction without holding
an evidentiary hearing, as in this case, the ‘prima
facie' standard governs its determination.”
United States v. Swiss Am. Bank, Ltd., 274 F.3d 610,
618 (1st Cir. 2001). Under this standard, the plaintiff 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.” Id.
(citation omitted). Thus, to meet its burden in this case,
the plaintiff must “proffer evidence which, taken at
face value, suffices to show all facts essential to personal
jurisdiction.” Baskin-Robbins Franchising LLC v.
Alpenrose Dairy, Inc., 825 F.3d 28, 34 (1st Cir. 2016).
The court will “take the facts from the pleadings and
whatever supplemental filings (such as affidavits) are
contained in the record, giving credence to the
plaintiff's version of genuinely contested facts.”
Id. It will “then add to the mix facts put
forward by the defendants, to the extent that they are
uncontradicted.” N. Laminate Sales, Inc. v.
Davis, 403 F.3d 14, 24 (1st Cir. 2005) (quoting
Mass. Sch. of Law v. Am. Bar Ass'n, 142 F.3d 26,
34 (1st Cir. 1998)).
this standard to the instant case, the relevant facts are as
of the Manufacturer
August 31, 2012, Mr. Whitley was working as a
Longshoreman/Harbor Worker at the Conley Terminal located in
South Boston, Massachusetts, when a forklift truck on which
he was riding flipped over and crushed his leg. (Am. Compl.
¶¶ 4-5). The forklift truck allegedly had the name
“Linde” emblazoned on the side. (See
Docket No. 49 ¶ 5). On August 27, 2015, Mr. Whitley
filed suit in Suffolk Superior Court against Linde Material
Handling North America Corporation and Kion North America
Corporation - the plaintiff believed that one of these
related entities had manufactured the forklift truck at
issue. (See Docket No. 6 (Original Compl.) ¶
1). According to the defendant, Linde Material Handling North
America Corporation is now known as Kion North America Corp.
(See Docket No. 47 at 1). Based on this information,
the plaintiff amended his complaint to name Kion North
America Corporation (“Kion”) as the only
defendant. (See Docket No. 6 at 21, 23).
removed the action to this court on January 5, 2016. (Docket
No. 1). Kion then moved for summary judgment on the basis
that it had not manufactured the forklift truck. (Docket No.
20). While the motion was initially denied (Docket No. 47),
considerable confusion remained as to which
“Linde” company was responsible for manufacturing
the forklift truck at issue. (See, e.g.,
Docket Nos. 23, 24, 44, 49, 54, 55, 58). Finally, the parties
agreed that LHTD is the entity responsible for manufacturing
the forklift truck at issue in this case. (See
Docket No. 55 ¶ 1). LHTD contends, however, that this
court has no jurisdiction over this foreign entity.
Contacts With Massachusetts
a private limited company organized under the laws of the
United Kingdom. (Smart Decl. ¶ 3). LHTD ceased active
business operations in 2013. (Id.). When it was
actively operating, LHTD maintained its principal place of
business in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales, Great Britain, where
the forklift at issue was manufactured. (Id.
¶¶ 3-4). While it was active, LHTD did not conduct
business in Massachusetts, did not conduct marketing
activities in Massachusetts, was not a registered company in
Massachusetts, had no registered agent for service of process
in Massachusetts, did not pay taxes in Massachusetts, had no
employees in Massachusetts, did not maintain an office in
Massachusetts, owned no personal or real property in
Massachusetts, held no bank accounts in Massachusetts, and
had no telephone listings in Massachusetts. (Id.
forklift truck at issue was manufactured in South Wales in
2006. (Id. ¶ 5). LHTD sold the forklift truck
to Mi-Jack Products, Inc. (“Mi-Jack”), a
distributor located in Hazel Crest, Illinois. (Id.).
After the forklift truck was delivered to Mi-Jack in April
2006, LHTD had no further involvement with the forklift
truck, either in the United States generally or in
Massachusetts specifically. (Id.). LHTD had no
involvement in the subsequent sale of the forklift truck by
Mi-Jack, or involvement in any transaction or activity that
ultimately resulted in the forklift truck's presence in
December 21, 2017, LHTD filed its motion to dismiss for lack
of personal jurisdiction, arguing that LHTD does not satisfy
the minimum contacts required for this court to maintain
general or specific jurisdiction over LHTD. On January 3,
2018, Whitley filed his opposition to defendant's motion
to dismiss, arguing that this court should exercise
jurisdiction over LHTD. (See Docket No. 67
(“Pl. Opp.”)). A hearing was held on January 30,
2018, after which the plaintiff was given 30 days to
supplement the record with any evidence regarding personal
jurisdiction, including the existence of an agency
relationship, if any, between LHTD and Mi-Jack. (See
Docket No. 73). No. supplementation was made.