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Rui Costa and Kimberly Costa v. Wirtgen International Gmbh & Co. Kg and Wirtgen America

April 16, 2013

RUI COSTA AND KIMBERLY COSTA, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
WIRTGEN INTERNATIONAL GMBH & CO. KG AND WIRTGEN AMERICA, INC.,
DEFENDANTS.



ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS AND GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO TRANSFER VENUE [Re: Docket No. 6]

Presently before the court in this product liability action is Defendants Wirtgen International GmbH & Co., KG and Wirtgen America, Inc.'s (collectively, "Defendants") Motion to Dismiss Under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(3) and Motion to Transfer Venue Under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). Dkt. No. 6. Having reviewed the parties' briefing, the court determines that a hearing is not necessary and hereby VACATES the hearing currently set for April 19, 2013. For the foregoing reasons, the court DENIES Defendants' Motion to Dismiss and GRANTS Defendants' Motion to Transfer Venue.

I.Background

On November 5, 2012, Plaintiffs Rui Costa and Kimberly Costa (collectively, "Plaintiffs") filed this action seeking to recover damages they incurred as a result of an accident on August 5, 2011. On that day, Mr. Costa and a co-worker were attempting to load Defendants' W2000 Cold Milling Machine, a piece of heavy equipment used to remove and grind pavement, onto a tractor trailer when the machine's rear crawler tracks turned outside of the profile of the machine. Dkt. No. 1 at ¶ 12. During this maneuver, a crawler track caught Mr. Costa's leg, causing him to be drawn underneath the machine and allowing the machine to roll over his lower extremities. Id. Both of Mr. Costa's lower extremities were ultimately amputated. Id. The incident occurred on State Highway 395 in the city of Alturas, CA, which is located within Modoc County. Id. at ¶ 6. Mr. Costa was airlifted to Oregon, where he received emergency medical care from the date of the accident until September 13, 2011. Id. at ¶ 7. Plaintiff then transferred to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, where he remained for inpatient rehabilitation until November 3, 2011. Id.

A year later, Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit alleging common law claims of product liability, breach of implied warranty, negligence, and loss of consortium. Dkt. No. 1. Defendants filed the present Motion to Dismiss and Motion to Transfer Venue on December 20, 2012. Dkt. No. 6. The court now turns to the substance of that motion.

II.Legal Standard

A defendant may raise a Rule 12(b)(3) motion to dismiss for improper venue in its first responsive pleading. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(3). The venue statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1391, provides that an action may be brought in:

(1) a judicial district in which any defendant resides, if all defendants are residents of the State in which the district is located; or

(2) a judicial district in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred, or a substantial part of property that is subject of the action is situated; or

(3) If there is no district in which an action may otherwise be brought as provided in this section, any judicial district in which any defendant is subject to the court's personal jurisdiction with respect to such an action.

28 U .S.C. §1391(b).

Once the defendant challenges venue, the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing that venue is proper. Piedmont Label Co. v. Sun Garden Packing Co., 598 F.2d 491, 496 (9th Cir. 1979). When considering a Rule 12(b)(3) motion to dismiss, the court need not accept the pleadings as true, and "may consider facts outside the pleadings." Richardson v. Lloyd's of London, 135 F.3d 1289, 1292 (9th Cir. 1998). However, the court must "draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party and resolve all factual conflicts in favor of the nonmoving party." Murphy v. Schneider Nat'l, Inc., 362 F.3d 1133, 1138--39 (9th Cir. 2003). If the court determines that venue is improper, it may dismiss the case, or, if it is in the interest of justice, transfer the case to any district in which it properly could have been brought. 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a). The decision to transfer rests in the discretion of the court. 28 U.S.C. § 1404(b).

III.Discussion

In order to resolve Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, the court must determine whether venue in the Northern District of California is appropriate under any section of 28 U.S.C. § 1391. Sections 1391(a)(1) and (a)(3) both require a corporate defendant to be subject to personal jurisdiction in the district in order for the chosen venue to be proper. See 28 U.S.C. § 1391(c)(2) (stating that for venue purposes, a corporate defendant "shall be deemed to reside.in any judicial district in which such defendant is subject to the court's personal jurisdiction with respect to the civil action in question"). To be subject to personal jurisdiction in any venue, the corporate defendant must either have "continuous and systematic" contacts sufficient to establish general personal jurisdiction, or more limited contacts sufficient to establish specific personal jurisdiction. See Sher v. Johnson, 911 F.2d 1357, 1361 (9th Cir. 1990). The parties agree that Defendants are not subject to general personal jurisdiction. Thus, the court must determine only whether specific personal jurisdiction applies.

The Ninth Circuit applies the following three-prong test to determine whether a defendant has sufficient contacts to be susceptible ...


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