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In re Asbestos Litigation

United States District Court, D. Delaware

August 22, 2017

IN RE ASBESTOS LITIGATION
v.
AIR & LIQUID SYSTEMS CORP., et al., Defendants. HAROLD and JUDY HAYNES, Plaintiffs,

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Sherry R. Fallon, United States Magistrate Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Presently before the court in this asbestos-related personal injury action is a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2), filed by defendant Volkswagen Group Of America, Inc. ("Volkswagen"). (D.I. 76) For the reasons set forth below, the court recommends granting Volkswagen's motion to dismiss.

         II. BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural History

         Harold and Judy Haynes ("Plaintiffs") filed this asbestos action in the Delaware Superior Court against multiple defendants on June 3, 2016, asserting claims arising from Mr. Haynes' alleged harmful exposure to asbestos. (D.I. 1 at 1) Defendant Crane Co. removed the action to this court on July 15, 2016. (D.I. 1) Volkswagen filed a motion to dismiss based on lack of personal jurisdiction on February 17, 2017. (D.I. 76) Plaintiffs did not respond to the motion. On March 13, 2017, counsel for Volkswagen sent a letter to the court seeking dismissal in light of Plaintiffs' failure to oppose its motion to dismiss. (D.I. 86)

         B. Facts

         Plaintiffs allege that Mr. Haynes developed lung cancer as a result of exposure to asbestos-containing products during his career as an auto mechanic for Volkswagen dealerships in Washington and Oregon from approximately 1964 to 1980. (D.I. 1, Ex. 1 at ¶¶ 3, 15) Plaintiffs contend that Defendants manufactured, sold, removed, installed, or distributed asbestos-containing products. (Id. at ¶ 4) Accordingly, Plaintiffs assert negligence, strict liability, punitive damages, and loss of consortium claims. (D.I. 1, Ex. 1)

         Plaintiffs have resided in Redmond, Oregon since 1992. (Id. at ¶ 2) Volkswagen is incorporated in New Jersey and has its principal place of business in Virginia. (D.I. 76 at 1)

         III. LEGAL STANDARDS

          Rule 12(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure directs the court to dismiss a case when the court lacks personal jurisdiction over the defendant. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2). When reviewing a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2), a court must accept as true all allegations of jurisdictional fact made by the plaintiff and resolve all factual disputes in the plaintiffs favor. Miller Yacht Sales, Inc. v. Smith, 384 F.3d 93, 97 (3d Cir. 2004); Traynor v. Liu, 495 F.Supp.2d 444, 448 (D. Del. 2007). Once a jurisdictional defense has been raised, the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing, with reasonable particularity, that sufficient minimum contacts have occurred between the defendant and the forum to support jurisdiction. See Provident Nat'l Bank v. Cal. Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n, 819 F.2d434, 437 (3d Cir. 1987). To meet this burden, the plaintiff must produce "sworn affidavits or other competent evidence, " since a Rule 12(b)(2) motion "requires resolution of factual issues outside the pleadings." Time Share Vacation Club v. Atl. Resorts, Ltd., 735 F.2d 61, 66 n.9 (3d Cir. 1984). A plaintiff "need only establish a. prima facie case of personal jurisdiction" when the court has not held an evidentiary hearing. O 'Connor v. Sandy Lane Hotel Co., 496 F.3d 312, 316 (3d Cir. 2007).

         To establish personal jurisdiction, a plaintiff must produce facts sufficient to satisfy two requirements by a preponderance of the evidence, one statutory and one constitutional. See Time Share, 735 F.2d at 66; Reach & Assocs. v. Dencer, 269 F.Supp.2d 497, 502 (D. Del. 2003). With respect to the statutory requirement, the court must determine whether there is a statutory basis for jurisdiction under the forum state's long-arm statute. See IMO Indus., Inc. v. Kiekert AG, 155 F.3d 254, 259 (3d Cir. 1998); Reach & Assocs., 269 F.Supp.2d at 502. The constitutional basis requires the court to determine whether the exercise of jurisdiction comports with the defendant's right to due process. See id; Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316(1945).

         Pursuant to the relevant portions of Delaware's long-arm statute, 10 Del. C. ยง 3 lO4(c)(1)-(4), a court may exercise personal jurisdiction ...


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