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Alfredo Saavedra v. Albin Manufactuing Corp.

August 19, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: M. James Lorenz United States District Court Judge


Defendants Albin Manufacturing Corp. (AMC), Albin Marine, Inc.*fn1 and Fred W.A. Peters move to dismiss the first amended complaint under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2), 12(b)3) and 12(b)(6). Plaintiff opposes the motion. The Court finds this matter suitable for determination on the papers submitted without oral argument pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7.1(d)(1).

Background As set forth in the FAC, plaintiff alleges that he contracted with the Albin defendants to purchase a new 2006 Albin 40 North See Cutter yacht with various upgrades; however, defendants actually provided a different and defective yacht to him. Plaintiff purchased the yacht from a dealer located in Connecticut and signed the purchase order on July 17, 2006; the U.S. Coast Guard registered the yacht to plaintiff on October 4, 2006; and defendants tendered the yacht on July 24, 2007. Upon inspection of the yacht in St. Petersburg, Florida, plaintiff rejected the boat as nonconforming.

Plaintiff filed this action on November 9, 2010. The FAC includes claims for: breach of implied warranties under the Magnuson-Moss Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 2301, et seq.; California Consumer Legal Remedies Act, California Civil Code §§ 1770, et seq.; breach of the Song-Beverly Warranty Act, California Civil Code § 1792, et seq.; violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, Florida Stats. §§ 501.202, et seq.; breach of written contract; rescission of contract; fraud; and common law breach of warranty.

Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction

As noted above, the Albin defendants and Fred W.A. Peters move to dismiss the FAC for lack of personal jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2). Plaintiff bears the burden of establishing that jurisdiction is proper. Mavrix Photo, Inc. v. Brand Technologies, Inc., 2011 WL 3437047, *2 (9th Cir., Aug. 8, 2011.) If the defendant's motion is based on written materials rather than an evidentiary hearing, the plaintiff need only make a prima facie showing of jurisdictional facts to withstand the motion to dismiss. Id. (citing Brayton Purcell LLP v. Recordon & Recordon, 606 F.3d 1124, 1127 (9th Cir. 2010). "The plaintiff cannot 'simply rest on the bare allegations of its complaint,' but uncontroverted allegations in the complaint must be taken as true." Schwarzenegger v. Fred Martin Motor Co., 374 F.3d 797, 800 (9th Cir. 2004) (quoting Amba Mktg. Sys., Inc. v. Jobar Int'l, Inc., 551 F.2d 784, 787 (9th Cir. 1977)). The court "may not assume the truth of allegations in a pleading which are contradicted by affidavit," Data Disc, Inc. v. Sys. Tech. Assocs., Inc., 557 F.2d 1280, 1284 (9th Cir. 1977), but must resolve "factual disputes in the plaintiff's favor." Pebble Beach Co. v. Caddy, 453 F.3d 1151, 1154 (9th Cir.2006).

The district court applies the law of the state in which the court sits when no federal statute authorizes personal jurisdiction. FED. R. CIV. P. 4(k)(1)(A); Panavision Int'l, L.P. v. Toeppen, 141 F.3d 1316, 1320 (9th Cir. 1998). California's long-arm statute, CAL. CIV. PROC. ODE § 410.10, is coextensive with federal due process requirements; therefore, the jurisdictional analyses under state law and federal due process are the same. Schwarzenegger, 374 F.3d at 800--01.

For a court to exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant consistent with due process, that defendant must have "certain minimum contacts" with the relevant forum "such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend 'traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.'" International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945) (quoting Milliken v. Meyer, 311 U.S. 457, 463 (1940)). Under a due process analysis, a defendant may be subject to either general or specific personal jurisdiction. Helicopteros Nacionales de Columbia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 414, 104 S.Ct. 1868 (1984).

A. General Jurisdiction

"For general jurisdiction to exist over a nonresident defendant . . . the defendant must engage in continuous and systematic general business contacts, that approximate physical presence in the forum state." Schwartzenegger, 374 F.3d at 801 (internal quotations omitted). "This is an exacting standard, as it should be, because a finding of general jurisdiction permits a defendant to be haled into court in the forum state to answer for any of its activities anywhere in the world." Id.

While acknowledging that the Albin defendants have no physical contacts with California and are located in Connecticut, plaintiff contends that the Court has general jurisdiction over them because they have advertised their yachts on the internet, and have two authorized dealers for their yachts in California.

As the Ninth Circuit recently noted:

To permit the exercise of general jurisdiction based on the accessibility in the forum of a non-resident interactive website would expose most large media entities to nationwide general jurisdiction. That result would be inconsistent with the constitutional requirement that "the continuous corporate operations within a state" be "so substantial and of such a nature as to justify suit against [the nonresident defendant] on causes of action arising from dealings entirely distinct from those activities." International Shoe, 326 U.S. ...

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