United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO
RICHARD G. STEARNS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Duarte brought this lawsuit on July 19, 2018, in Middlesex
Superior Court against Hitachi Koki U.S.A.,
for damages allegedly caused by an Hitachi table saw. The
Complaint sets out two claims against Koki: negligence (Count
I) and breach of implied warranty (Count II). Koki removed
the case to federal court and now moves to dismiss the
Complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction. For the reasons
to be explained, Koki's motion to dismiss will be denied.
facts, as alleged in the Complaint, are as follows. In July
of 2015, Duarte's employer bought an Hitachi table saw in
Massachusetts likely distributed through a Lowe's
warehouse in Connecticut. On July 27, 2015, Duarte injured
himself using the saw at work. He suffered “severe and
disfiguring personal injuries.” Compl. ¶ 1. Duarte
alleges that Koki was aware of safer table saw designs that
it failed to incorporate in its saw. For instance, Koki could
have built in a “dead man's” switch
“that would stop a power saw blade almost instantly
upon contact with human flesh.” Id. ¶ 9.
argues, however, that the court lacks personal jurisdiction
over it. As a Delaware corporation with a principal place of
business in Georgia, Koki states that it has no presence in
Massachusetts. Koki is not registered, licensed, or
authorized to do business in Massachusetts, nor does it have
property or offices in the Commonwealth. Koki does not
currently have any employees in Massachusetts. However, in
July of 2015, Koki's Northeast Account Executive resided
in Massachusetts where he worked out of his home office. His
territory included Massachusetts. Koki distributed a majority
of the disputed table saws to Lowe's, including a
Lowe's distribution center in Connecticut.
district court may exercise authority over a defendant by
virtue of either general or specific jurisdiction.”
Massachusetts Sch. of Law at Andover, Inc. v. Am. Bar
Ass'n, 142 F.3d 26, 34 (1st Cir. 1998).
“General jurisdiction exists when the litigation is not
directly founded on the defendant's forum-based contacts,
but the defendant has nevertheless engaged in continuous and
systematic activity, unrelated to the suit, in the forum
state.” United Elec., Radio & Mach. Workers v.
163 Pleasant St. Corp., 960 F.2d 1080, 1088 (1st Cir.
1992). “Specific jurisdiction exists when there is a
demonstrable nexus between a plaintiff's claims and a
defendant's forum-based activities, such as when the
litigation itself is founded directly on those
activities.” Massachusetts Sch. of Law at Andover,
Inc., 142 F.3d at 34.
does not argue, nor do the facts suggest, that the court has
general jurisdiction over Koki. Duarte relies instead on a
claim of specific jurisdiction. Since Koki challenges the
court's jurisdiction, Duarte bears the burden of proving
the existence of personal jurisdiction. See Sawtelle v.
Farrell, 70 F.3d 1381, 1387 (1st Cir. 1995) (“When
a court's jurisdiction is contested, the plaintiff bears
the burden of proving that jurisdiction lies in the forum
state.”); Hannon v. Beard, 524 F.3d 275, 279
(1st Cir. 2008) (“The plaintiff bears the burden of
proving the court's personal jurisdiction over a
defendant.”) (citation omitted).
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 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., 142 F.3d at 34; see
also Rodriguez v. Fullerton Tires Corp., 115 F.3d 81, 84
(1st Cir. 1997) (“[A] district court does not act as a
factfinder; to the contrary, it ascertains only whether the
facts duly proffered, fully credited, support the exercise of
order to exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant, the
court must find sufficient contacts between the defendant and
the forum to satisfy both the state's long-arm statute
and the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Sawtelle, 70 F.3d at 1387; Ticketmaster-New
York, Inc. v. Alioto, 26 F.3d 201, 204 (1st Cir. 1994).
“[T]he Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts has
interpreted the state's long-arm statute as an assertion
of jurisdiction over the person to the limits allowed by the
Constitution of the United States.” Phillips v.
Prairie Eye Ctr., 530 F.3d 22, 26 (1st Cir. 2008)
(citations omitted). That being the case, it is appropriate
to dispense with the statutory inquiry and “proceed
directly to the constitutional analysis.” Id.; see
also Sawtelle, 70 F.3d at 1388 (“[W]hen a
state's long-arm statute is coextensive with the outer
limits of due process, the court's attention properly
turns to the issue of whether the exercise of personal
jurisdiction comports with federal constitutional
standards”). The First Circuit's constitutional
test for determining specific jurisdiction has “three
distinct components, namely, relatedness, purposeful
availment (sometimes called minimum contacts), and
reasonableness.” Hannon, 524 F.3d at 282
to satisfy relatedness, “the claim underlying the
litigation must directly arise out of, or relate to, the
defendant's forum-state activities.” Daynard v.
Ness, Motley, Loadholt, Richardson & Poole, P.A.,
290 F.3d 42, 61 (1st Cir. 2002) (citation omitted).
“[T]he relatedness test is a ‘flexible, relaxed
standard.'” N. Laminate Sales, Inc. v.
Davis, 403 F.3d 14, 25 (1st Cir. 2005) (citation
omitted). Duarte has satisfied this test by showing that Koki
distributed the saw to Lowe's and employed a sales
representative in Massachusetts. See Lewis v. Dimeo
Const. Co., 2015 WL 3407605, at *4 (D. Mass. 2015)
(“Here, relatedness is satisfied by [the
defendant's] introduction of the product that eventually
injured [the plaintiff] into the market, together with its
efforts to ensure a distribution network for that product in
Massachusetts . . . .”); Micheli v. Techtronic
Indus. Co., Ltd., 2012 WL 6087383, at *9 (D. Mass. 2013)
(“In stream-of-commerce cases, ‘the
jurisdictional hitch . . . comes from the requirement of
purposeful availment.'”) (citation omitted). Koki
introduced the table saw into Massachusetts by distributing
it to a Lowe's distribution center in Connecticut.
Duarte, in turn, injured himself using the saw at work in
Massachusetts. The relatedness element of this test is thus
“the defendant's in-state contacts must represent a
purposeful availment of the privilege of conducting
activities in the forum state, thereby invoking the benefits
and protections of that state's laws and making the
defendant's involuntary presence before the state's
courts foreseeable.” Daynard, 290 F.3d at 61
(citation omitted). In stream-of-commerce cases, like this
one, “[t]he placement of a product into the stream of
commerce, without more, is not an act of the defendant
purposefully directed toward the forum State.”
Asahi Metal Indus. Co. v. Superior Court of California,
Solano Cty., 480 U.S. 102, 112 (1987). Accordingly, the
court must consider whether Koki engaged in any
“[a]dditional conduct” that demonstrates an
“intent or purpose” to serve the market ...