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Pershing Pacific West, LLC v. Ferretti Group

January 24, 2013

PERSHING PACIFIC WEST, LLC,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
FERRETTI GROUP, USA, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

ORDER: (1) GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART MTU GMBH'S MOTION TO DISMISS [DOC. 80]; AND (2) DENYING FERRETTI AND MARINEMAX'S EX PARTE APPLICATION [DOC. 91]

On May 24, 2010, Plaintiff Pershing Pacific West, LLC ("Pershing") commenced this action in the San Diego Superior Court against Defendants Ferretti Group, USA, Inc. ("Ferretti"), MarineMax, Inc., and MTU Detroit Diesel, Inc., doing business as Detroit Diesel Corporation ("MTU DD"). About a month later, Ferretti and MarineMax removed this action to federal court. On April 12, 2012, after receiving leave from the Court, Pershing filed its First Amended Complaint ("FAC") in order to add Defendant MTU Friedrichshafen GmbH ("MTU GmbH") to this action. MTU GmbH now moves to dismiss. Pershing opposes.

The Court found this motion suitable for determination on the papers submitted and without oral argument. See Civ. L.R. 7.1(d.1). (Doc. 83.) For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART MTU GmbH's motion to dismiss.

BACKGROUND

A. Sale of the Yacht

On August 22, 2008, Pershing and MarineMax entered into a written Purchase Agreement in which Pershing*fn1 agreed to buy a 73-foot power boat ("yacht")*fn2 manufactured by Pershing S.p.A., an Italian corporation wholly owned by the Ferretti Group, for $5,000,000. (FAC ¶ 9, Ex. A.) The yacht was built in 2008 with two new Series 2000 Detroit Diesel engines, separately manufactured by MTU DD and MTU GmbH (collectively, "MTU"). (Id. ¶¶ 5, 11.) Pershing alleges that the Purchase Agreement sought to disclaim all warranties and referred Pershing to the manufacturer's warranty. (Id. ¶ 10.) At the time of sale, and despite Pershing's request, Defendants each failed to provide the warranties upon which Pershing was directed to rely upon.

) Pershing also alleges that "[n]either at the time of sale nor anytime thereafter was [Pershing] provided with the terms and conditions of the warranty." (Id.)

Sometime thereafter, Defendants delivered the yacht to Pershing in Fano, Italy. (FAC ¶ 12.) At the time Pershing took delivery of the yacht, and "despite continued representations as to the existence of warranties," Defendants failed to provide Pershing with any warranties. (Id.) Rather, Pershing was promised "such warranty information would thereafter be provided." (Id.) Pershing alleges that it was not provided with such warranty information, and that it was not given a "reasonable opportunity" to inspect the yacht. (Id.)

B. Allegations of the Yacht's Defective Condition

On September 9, 2008, during the yacht's first trip from Fano, Italy to Croatia, a high fuel temperature warning light activated for the port engine. (FAC ¶ 13.) The next day, the high fuel temperature alarm activated for the same engine again. (Id.) After returning to Fano, Italy, the warning could not be reproduced. (Id.)

On December 16, 2008, the yacht was delivered to Port Everglades, Florida. (FAC ¶ 14.) Then, on December 26, 2008, while leaving the Bahamas Islands, another high temperature fuel warning occurred, and the engine failed to come up to a normal cruising speed of 2400 rpms.

) Pershing alleges that the engines would not exceed 1800 rpms. (Id.)

From September 2008 to the present, MTU, "either directly or through its authorized service representative, has attempted to fix the problems of [the] high fuel temperature to the port diesel engine and the inability of the port diesel engine to reach its normal cruising speed of 2400 rpms." (FAC ¶ 16.) Pershing alleges that the fuel temperature on the port engine has run as high as 40 degrees above the fuel temperature on the starboard engine, exceeding 203 degrees. (Id.) Other problems have included a fuel leak from the overflow valve on the port engine on June 29, 2009, and a leak in the fuel pump also in the port engine on June 30, 2009.

) The fuel pump has since been replaced, and so has a defective injector. (Id.) Fuel line leaks have also been detected at connections on June 27, 2009. (Id.)

During the same time period when the problems arose, MTU and its authorized representatives made numerous inspections of the port engine and attempted repairs on more than five different occasions, seeking to resolve the fuel-overheating problem and the port engine's inability to reach regular speeds. (FAC ¶ 17.) Pershing alleges a myriad of detailed repair attempts that occurred at least fourteen times between June 2009 and January 2010. (Id.) On March 28, 2010, the yacht sustained another fuel leak in the port engine resulting in the deposit of more than 4 inches of fuel in the main bilge. (Id. ¶ 18.) In response, MTU and its authorized representatives again attempted repairs of the engine. (Id.)

On April 23, 2010, Pershing's counsel sent a formal correspondence, advising Ferretti, MarineMax, and MTU DD of the "persistent defective condition of the boat and communicated its intent to seek a judicial remedy in the absence of an acceptable response." (FAC ¶ 19; see Compl. Ex. B.) To date, Pershing has not received a response to that correspondence. (FAC ¶ 20.)

On May 2, 2010, the yacht was once again taken out for sea trials. (FAC ¶ 20.) Again, while attempting to bring the yacht up to speed, both the high pressure fuel alarm and fire alarms sounded. (Id.) Ultimately, the yacht was taken back into the port. (Id.) As of the date Pershing filed its complaint, the deficiencies associated with the yacht have not been repaired. (Id.) In addition to the engine-related problems, the yacht also experienced "persistent and uncured deficiencies" with the Besenzoni System and port Trim Tab. (Id. ¶ 21.) These problems also have not been repaired. (Id.) Pershing alleges that "[a]s a consequence of the malfunctions . . . [it] has had to repeatedly cancel planned trips and seldom been able to use [the yacht]." (Id. ¶ 21.) "[T]he engines have been used in total only about 200 hours, much of which time was spent in sea trials after repairs and for the purpose of determining whether repairs were successful."

On May 24, 2010, Pershing commenced this action in San Diego Superior Court, alleging causes of action for: (1) revocation of acceptance; (2) rescission; (3) breach of contract; (4) breach of implied warranty of merchantability; (5) negligence; and (6) breach of express warranty. About a month later, Ferretti and MarineMax removed this action to federal court. (Doc. 1.) After obtaining leave from the Court, Pershing filed its FAC on April 12, 2012, alleging the same causes of action, but adding MTU GmbH as a defendant. MTU GmbH now moves to dismiss the FAC under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) and 12(b)(6). (Doc. 80.) Pershing opposes.

JURISDICTION

When the parties dispute whether personal jurisdiction over a foreign defendant is proper, "the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing that jurisdiction exists." Rios Props. Inc. v. Rio Int'l Interlink, 284 F.3d 1007, 1019 (9th Cir. 2002). In ruling on the motion, the "court may consider evidence presented in affidavits to assist in its determination and may order discovery on the jurisdictional issues." Doe v. Unocal Corp., 248 F.3d 915, 922 (9th Cir. 2001). Where the motion is based on written materials rather than an evidentiary hearing, the plaintiff need make "a prima facie showing of jurisdictional facts to withstand the motion to dismiss." Bryton Purcell LLP v. Recordon & Recordon, 575 F.3d 981, 985 (9th Cir. 2009). "In determining whether the plaintiff has met this burden, the Court must take the allegations in the plaintiff's complaint as true and resolve the disputed jurisdictional facts in the plaintiff's favor." Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. v. Nissan Computer Corp., 89 F. Supp. 2d 1154, 1158 (C.D. Cal. 2000) (citing Ziegler v. Indian River Cnty., 64 F.3d 470, 473 (9th Cir. 1995)). A prima facie showing means that "the plaintiff need only demonstrate facts that if true would support jurisdiction over the defendant." Unocal, 248 F.3d at 922.

"The general rule is that personal jurisdiction over a defendant is proper if it is permitted a long-arm statute and if the exercise of that jurisdiction does not violate federal due process." Pebble Beach Co. v. Caddy, 453 F.3d 1151, 1154 (9th Cir. 2006). Both the California and federal long-arm statutes require compliance with due-process requirements. Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(k)(2); Pebble Beach, 453 F.3d at 1155; see Holland Am. Line Inc. v. Wartsila N. Am., Inc., 485 F.3d 150, 161 (9th Cir. 2007).

There are two types of personal jurisdiction: general and specific. General jurisdiction "enables a court to hear cases unrelated to the defendant's forum activities[.]" Fields v. Sedgewick Assoc. Risks, Ltd., 796 F.2d 299, 301 (9th Cir. 1986). Specific jurisdiction allows the court to exercise jurisdiction over a defendant whose forum-related activities gave rise to the action before the court. See Bancroft & Masters, Inc. v. August Nat'l Inc., 223 F.3d 1082, 1086 (9th Cir. 2000). The Ninth Circuit employs a three-part test to determine whether the defendant's contacts with the forum state are sufficient to subject it to specific jurisdiction. Ballard v. Savage, 65 F.3d 1495, 1498 (9th Cir. 1995). Under the three-part inquiry, specific jurisdiction exists only if: (1) the out-of-state defendant purposefully availed itself of the privilege of conducting activities in the forum, thereby invoking the benefits and protections of the forum's laws; (2) the cause of action arose out of the defendant's forum-related activities; and (3) the exercise of jurisdiction is reasonable. Myers v. Bennett Law Offices, 238 F.3d 1068, 1072 (9th Cir. 2001). "If any of the three requirements is not satisfied, jurisdiction in the forum would deprive the defendant of due process of law." Pebble Beach, 453 F.3d at 1155.

MTU GmbH argues that the Court lacks personal jurisdiction, both general and specific. In response, Pershing argues the contrary, primarily based on MTU GmbH's distribution agreement with Valley Power Systems, Inc. ("VPS") to provide sales and services for MTU GmbH and others. For the following reasons, the Court finds Pershing ...


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