The opinion of the court was delivered by: SUSAN ILLSTON, District Judge
ORDER GRANTING MOTION BY DEFENDANTS ALTRIA GROUP, INC. AND LOUIS
C. CAMILLERI TO DISMISS FOR LACK OF PERSONAL JURISDICTION
Defendants move to dismiss the claims against them for lack of
personal jurisdiction. Plaintiff has not filed a brief in
opposition to defendants' motion.*fn1
The Court takes
defendants' motion under submission without oral argument
pursuant to Local Rule 7-1(b). Having carefully reviewed the
arguments submitted, the Court hereby GRANTS defendants' motion
Plaintiff Linda Ross ("Ross") filed a complaint on April 8,
2004 in Sonoma County Superior Court against defendants Altria
Group, Inc. ("ALG"), and Louis C. Camilleri ("Camilleri"),
alleging that defendants and their subsidiary, Kraft Foods, used
aspartame as a sugar substitute in the manufacture of "Crystal Light," and thereby knowingly and intentionally
exposed consumers to the health risks associated with aspartame
without warning them of its harmful effects. Compl. at 1:20-22,
2:10-13. Plaintiff alleges violations of the California Consumers
Legal Remedies Act, fraud, and breach of warranties under
California law, and seeks damages and injunctive relief. Id. at
¶¶ 49-89. Defendants removed the case to this Court on April 14,
2004. Subject matter jurisdiction exists on the basis of
Plaintiff alleges personal jurisdiction over ALG on grounds
that ALG, "through their subsidiary Kraft Foods[,] sells Crystal
Light in the state of California and worldwide," and "via Kraft
Foods, advertises its products extensively in California." Compl.
¶ 2. Plaintiff also states that ALG's website "is accessible to
California consumers." Id. In addition, plaintiff alleges that
ALG "manufactures," "distributes," and "market[s]" Crystal Light
through Kraft Foods, and has made false representations that
Crystal Light is safe and healthy. Id. at ¶ 41, 43, 44-45.
Plaintiff alleges personal jurisdiction over Camilleri on
grounds that "as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer" for ALG,
he "is responsible for the operation of the company and its
subsidiaries and in that capacity is directly and proximately
liable for the actions of the company in the use and sale of
Aspartame as an additive in Crystal Light," and is also
"individually liable for the actions of Defendant Altria Group,
Inc." because he has "intentionally allowed Aspartame-containing
products to be placed in the stream of commerce to the detriment
of the Plaintiff and other similarly situated consumers." Id.
at ¶¶ 3-4.
ALG, formerly the Philip Morris Companies, Inc., is a publicly
traded holding company that acquires ownership interests in
various subsidiaries for investment purposes. Lampe Decl. ¶ 2-3,
6. It is incorporated in Virginia and has its principal place of
business in New York. Id. at ¶ 2. ALG does not conduct business
in California, has never engaged in sales or service activities
in California, and does not place products into the stream of
commerce with the expectation that they will enter California.
Id. at ¶ 7. It does not file any state income tax returns or
pay state taxes in California. Id. ALG does not have an office or place of business, bank accounts or credit
facilities, real property, joint ventures, or telephone listings
in California. Id. at ¶ 7, 9, 11, 13. It has no employees or
agents in California and has no designated agent for service of
process in the state. Id. at ¶ 7, 8.
ALG owns a majority interest in Kraft Foods, Inc., a Virginia
corporation with its principal place of business in Illinois.
Id. at ¶ 4. Kraft and ALG have separate boards of directors,
are managed by separate executive officers, and engage in
different types of business activity. Id. at ¶ 4, 6. Unlike
ALG, which does not produce any products or services, Kraft is a
food and beverage company that derives its income from the sale
of these products. Id. at ¶ 6.
ALG occasionally engages in national, non-product "image"
advertising. Id. at ¶ 14. Previously, ALG aired advertisements
about the public service efforts of the people and companies that
were part of the Philip Morris family of companies, and in 2003
it conducted a national advertising campaign to introduce its new
name and communicate its identity. Id. None of ALG's placements
have included product advertisements. Id. ALG has a public
website, but it is not used to advertise the products made and
distributed by ALG's operating subsidiaries or to solicit
business. Id. at ¶ 15.
Louis Camilleri is the Chairman of the Board of Directors and
Chief Executive Officer of ALG. Camilleri Decl. ¶ 1. His only
residence is in New York, and he has never resided in California.
Id. at ¶ 2. His only office is in New York, and he has never
maintained an office in California. Id. at ¶ 3.
Camilleri has never owned, leased, or possessed any real
property in California. Id. at ¶ 4. He has never filed tax
returns in California, and he does not have bank accounts,
investment accounts, or loans with California financial
institutions. Id. at ¶ 5-6. He has never been a party to
litigation in California other than this action. Id. at ¶ 7. He
has never entered into any contracts in California. Id. at ¶ 8.
He has traveled to California only once. Id.
Camilleri has not personally directed, controlled, or had
day-to-day decision-making responsibility for the formulation,
design, manufacturing, labeling, promotion, marketing,
distribution, or sale of Crystal Light, or its placement into the
stream of commerce. Id. at ¶ 11. He has never made any
statements or representations to plaintiff Ross about Crystal
Light or aspartame. Id. at ¶ 10.
Now before the Court are ALG's and Camilleri's motions to
dismiss plaintiff's claims for lack of personal jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(2).*fn3 Plaintiff has filed no opposition to
defendants' motion. Therefore, the Court assumes that the factual
assertions made in defendants' motion are uncontroverted.
A motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction may be
brought under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2). "Although
the defendant is the moving party on a motion to dismiss, the
plaintiff bears the burden of establishing that jurisdiction
exists." Rio Props., Inc. v. ...