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Pamplona v. Hernandez

March 5, 2009

LUCIA PAMPLONA AND JEREMIAH VINCENT PAMPLONA, A MINOR, BY AND THROUGH HIS GUARDIAN AD LITEM RICHARD PAMPLONA IN INTEREST TO DECEDENT VICENT S. PAMPLONA; AND ANGELITA PAMPLONA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NOIDA HERNANDEZ; ROMMIE HERNANDEZ; REMIE HERNANDEZ; BRYAN PINE INDIVIDUALLY AND DBA PINE RENTAL SERVICE; MARCUS GUERRERO; JLG INDUSTRIES, INC.; DOES 1 THROUGH 100; UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Irma E. Gonzalez, Chief Judge United States District Court

ORDER SEVERING DEFENDANTS PINE AND GUERRERO FROM JOSE PAMPLONA CASE AND TRANSFERRING ACTION AS TO PINE AND GUERRERO TO THE DISTRICT COURT OF GUAM [Doc. Nos. 12, 16]

Defendants Bryan Pine and Marcus Guerrero filed the present motions to (1) dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2) or, in the alternative, (2) transfer the action to the District of Guam pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1631. Plaintiffs concede the Court lacks personal jurisdiction over movants, but requests the Court transfer the claims against those defendants to the District of Guam. The moving defendants replied. Having considered the parties' submissions, and for the reasons set forth below, the Court enters the following memorandum and order.

BACKGROUND

I. Relevant Parties

In this wrongful death action, plaintiff Lucia Pamplona is the wife of decedent Vincent S. Pamplona and plaintiff Vincent Pamplona is decedent's son. Both Lucia and Vincent are residents of Nevada. Plaintiffs Jose and Angelita Pamplona are decedent's parents and Hawaiian residents.

Defendant Bryan Pine is a resident of Guam who has lived there continuously for twenty years. Pine's only contact with California is periodic visits to relatives living in the state. Pine has operated Pine Rental in Guam as a sole proprietorship for the last fifteen years. Pine Rental transacts business under a Guam business license and pays taxes only in Guam. Defendant Guerrero has worked for Pine Rental for eight years and is currently the manager. Guerrero was born on Guam, has lived on Guam his whole life, and has never been to the mainland of the United States.

II. Factual Background

On August 25, 2006, officers of the USNS San Jose (the "San Jose") rented a Manlift from Pine Rental.*fn1 On August 31, 2006, the decedent performed a fresh water wash down of the San Jose's hull and was seated in the Manlift. While decedent was washing the ship, the Manlift malfunctioned and the bucket in which the decedent was located tipped over, causing decedent to fall to his death on the dock below. Defendant JLG Industries allegedly constructed the Manlift and the remaining defendants were decedent's co-workers who were involved in operation of the machine.

III. Procedural Background

Plaintiffs originally filed this action in San Diego Superior Court. Defendants removed this action to federal court on December 1, 2008. On January 16, 2009, defendants Pine and Guerrero moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction or alternatively, to transfer the claims against Pine and Guerrero to Guam. [Doc. Nos. 12, 16] Plaintiffs opposed, admitting the court had no personal jurisdiction, but requesting the court transfer the action, as to movants, to the District of Guam. Defendants replied and the Court found this motion amendable to disposition without oral argument.

Plaintiffs filed an identical action in Guam Superior Court. In Guam, plaintiffs are proceeding pro se, but have not served defendants. Plaintiffs claim the Guam court may dismiss the action.

LEGAL STANDARD

Rule 12(b)(2) allows a party to move for dismissal based on a lack of personal jurisdiction.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2). "Personal jurisdiction" refers to the court's power to render a judgment that either commands a defendant's personal obedience or imposes obligations on the defendant that will be enforced by other courts. See Burnham v. Superior Courts, 495 U.S. 604, 608-09 (1990). The plaintiff bears the burden of establishing that jurisdiction exists. Rio Props., Inc. v. Rio Int'l Interlink, 284 F.3d 1007, 1019 (9th Cir. 2002). Absent one of the traditional bases for jurisdiction -- presence, domicile, or consent -- due process requires the defendant have "certain minimum contacts with [the forum state] such that the ...


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