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Sina International, Inc. v. Northwest Bus Sales, Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. California

February 3, 2014


Proceedings: MOTION TO DISMISS (Dkt. 11, filed January 3, 2014)



On October 16, 2013, plaintiff Sina International, Inc. ("Sina") filed suit against defendants Northwest Bus Sales, Inc. ("Northwest") and Does 1 through 50 in Los Angeles County Superior Court. In brief, plaintiff alleges that, in May of 2013, Northwest sold Sina a 2013 Starcraft XLT 36' bus for $130, 500. Compl. ¶¶ 9-10. Upon receiving the bus, Sina discovered that the bus was inoperable. After taking the bus to a repair shop, it learned that the master break cylinder of the bus was defective and was required to be replaced. Id . ¶¶ 11-12. Plaintiff asserts claims for (1) breach of contract, (2) breach of the implied warranty of merchantability, and (3) fraud and concealment.

Northwest removed the case to this Court on November 27, 2013. Dkt. 1. Subsequently, on January 3, 2013, Northwest filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim. Dkt. 11. Plaintiff filed an opposition on January 13, 2014, and Northwest filed a reply on January 21, 2014. On February 3, 2014, the Court held a hearing. After considering the parties' arguments, the Court finds and concludes as follows.


A. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1)

California's long-arm jurisdictional statute is coextensive with federal due process requirements, so that the jurisdictional analysis under state law and federal due process are the same. Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 410.10; Roth v. Garcia Marquez , 942 F.2d 617, 620 (9th Cir. 1991). In order for a court to exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant, that defendant must have "minimum contacts" with the forum state so that the exercise of jurisdiction "does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice." Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington , 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945). Depending on the nature of the contacts between the defendant and the forum state, personal jurisdiction is characterized as either general or specific. A court has general jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant when that defendant's activities within the forum state are "substantial" or "continuous and systematic, " even if the cause of action is "unrelated to the defendant's forum activities." Perkins v. Benguet Consol. Mining Co. , 342 U.S. 437, 446-47 (1952); Data Disc, Inc. v. Sys. Tech. Assocs., Inc. , 557 F.2d 1280, 1287 (9th Cir. 1977).

The standard for establishing general jurisdiction is "fairly high" and requires that the defendant's contacts be substantial enough to approximate physical presence. Bancroft & Masters, Inc. v. Augusta Nat'l Inc. , 223 F.3d 1082, 1086 (9th Cir. 2000). "Factors to be taken into consideration are whether the defendant makes sales, solicits or engages in business in the state, serves the state's markets, designates an agent for service of process, holds a license, or is incorporated there." Id . (finding no general jurisdiction when the corporation was not registered or licensed to do business in California, paid no taxes, maintained no bank accounts, and targeted no advertising toward California). Occasional sales to residents of the forum state are insufficient to create general jurisdiction. See Brand v. Menlove Dodge , 796 F.2d 1070, 1073 (9th Cir. 1986). A court may assert specific jurisdiction over a claim for relief that arises out of a defendant's forum-related activities. Rano v. Sipa Press, Inc. , 987 F.2d 580, 588 (9th Cir. 1993). The test for specific personal jurisdiction has three parts:

(1) The defendant must perform an act or consummate a transaction within the forum, purposefully availing himself of the privilege of conducting activities in the forum and invoking the benefits and protections of its laws;
(2)The claim must arise out of or result from the defendant's forum-related(2) activities; and
(3) Exercise of jurisdiction must be reasonable. Id .; see also Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz , 471 U.S. 462, 475-76 (1985). The plaintiff bears the burden of satisfying the first two prongs, and if either of these prongs is not satisfied, personal jurisdiction is not established. Schwarzenegger v. Fred Martin Motor Co. , 374 F.3d 797, 802 (9th Cir. 2004).

If the plaintiff establishes the first two prongs regarding purposeful availment and the defendant's forum-related activities, then it is the defendant's burden to "present a compelling case" that the third prong, reasonableness, has not been satisfied. Schwarzenegger , 374 F.3d at 802 (quoting Burger King , 471 U.S. at 477). The third prong requires the Court to balance seven factors: (1) the extent of the defendant's purposeful availment, (2) the burden on the defendant, (3) conflicts of law between the forum state and the defendant's state, (4) the forum's interest in adjudicating the dispute, (5) judicial efficiency, (6) the plaintiff's interest in convenient and effective relief, and (7) the existence of an alternative forum. Roth v. Garcia Marquez , 942 F.2d 617, 623 (9th Cir. 1991).

Where, as here, a court decides a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction without an evidentiary hearing, the plaintiff need only make a prima facie showing of jurisdictional facts to withstand the motion to dismiss. Ballard v. Savage , 65 F.3d 1495, 1498 (9th Cir. 1995); Doe v. Unocal Corp. , 27 F.Supp.2d 1174, 1181 (C.D. Cal. 1998), aff'd, 248 F.3d 915 (9th Cir. 2001). Plaintiff's version of the facts is taken as true for purposes of the motion if not directly controverted, and conflicts between the parties' affidavits must be resolved in plaintiff's favor for purposes of deciding whether a ...

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