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Cottle v. Western Skyways Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. California

April 17, 2017

JOHN COTTLE, an individual, and VALLEY FRESH PRODUCE, INC., Plaintiffs,
WESTERN SKYWAYS INC., and DOES 1-25, Inclusive, Defendants.


         This matter is before the court on March 7, 2017, for hearing on defendant's motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. No. 6.) Attorney Michael Marderosian appeared on behalf of plaintiffs John Cottle and Valley Fresh Produce, Inc., and attorney John Hanson appeared on behalf of defendant Western Skyways, Inc. Oral argument was heard and the motion was taken under submission. For the reasons stated below, defendant's motion to dismiss will be granted.


         On January 11, 2017, plaintiffs John Cottle and Valley Fresh Produce, Inc. (“Valley Fresh”) commenced this action against defendants Western Skyways Inc. (“Western”) and Does 1-10. (Doc. No. 2.) Plaintiffs are citizens of California, while defendant Western Skyways Inc. is a citizen of Colorado. (Id. at 2.) In their complaint, plaintiffs raise the following five causes of action brought under state law: (i) breach of contract; (ii) breach of express warranty; (iii) strict liability; (iv) negligence; and (v) negligence per se. (Doc. No. 2 at 4-8.) Plaintiffs seek relief consisting of economic and non-economic damages, prejudgment interest, and costs. (Id. at 7-8.) In their complaint, plaintiffs allege the following facts.

         In February of 2016, plaintiffs contacted defendant Western regarding work to be performed on a Cessna T-210, N111VF (“Aircraft”). (Id. at 2, ¶¶ 8, 11-14.) Defendant Western agreed to manufacture and install a new engine system in the Aircraft, a “Turbo-normalizing” system. (Id. at 2, ¶ 9.) As part of this retrofit, defendant Western also agreed to install, overhaul, or modify a number of other Aircraft components. (Id. at 2, ¶ 10.) After entering into the contract, plaintiffs delivered the Aircraft to defendant Western's facilities in Montrose, Colorado. (Id. at 3, ¶ 14.)

         Defendant Western initially estimated the mechanical work on the retrofit would be completed in four to six weeks. (Id. at 3, ¶ 14.) However, the work was not completed until August 13, 2016. (Id. at 3, ¶ 17.) Defendant represented to plaintiffs that the delay was caused by the unavailability of certain parts and difficulties encountered during the test flight aspect of the installation. (Id. at 3, ¶ 18.)

         After finishing its mechanical work, defendant Western delivered the Aircraft to plaintiffs in Fresno, California. (Id. at 3, ¶¶ 17-18.) However, defendant failed to provide, or significantly delayed in providing, paperwork concerning work performed on the Aircraft. (Id. at 4, ¶ 19.) Various defects were also revealed when the Aircraft was inspected upon delivery, including defects in the newly-installed engine. (Id. at 3-4, ¶ 18.) The Aircraft was deemed unsafe for flight and was grounded. (Id. at 4, ¶ 20.) Plaintiffs allege that, as a result of defendant's actions, they incurred substantial economic and non-economic damages. (Id. at 6, ¶¶ 37-38.)

         On February 2, 2017, defendant Western filed a motion to dismiss plaintiffs' complaint in its entirety. (Doc. No. 6.) On February 21, 2017, plaintiffs filed their opposition, as well as a request for judicial notice. (Doc. Nos. 8-9.) Defendant filed its reply on February 28, 2017. (Doc. No. 10.)


         Under Rule 12(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a defendant may seek dismissal of an action for lack of personal jurisdiction. In opposing a defendant's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, the burden of proof to show that jurisdiction is appropriate lies with the plaintiffs. See Picot v. Weston, 780 F.3d 1206, 1211 (9th Cir. 2015); Love v. Assoc. Newspapers, Ltd., 611 F.3d 601, 608 (9th Cir. 2010); Boschetto v. Hansing, 539 F.3d 1011, 1015 (9th Cir. 2008). When a defendant's motion to dismiss is to be decided on the pleadings, affidavits, and discovery materials, the plaintiffs need only make a prima facie showing that personal jurisdiction exists in order for the action to proceed. See Picot, 870 F.3d at 1211; Love, 611 F.3d at 608; Boschetto, 539 F.3d at 1015.

         In determining whether plaintiffs have met their burden to show personal jurisdiction, the court accepts plaintiffs' allegations as true, and any conflicts between parties over statements contained in affidavits must be resolved in the plaintiffs' favor. Love, 611 F.3d at 608; Boschetto, 539 F.3d at 1015; Schwarzenegger v. Fred Martin Motor Co., 374 F.3d 797, 800 (9th Cir. 2004). However, plaintiffs “cannot simply rest on the bare allegations of its complaint.” Amba Mktg. Sys., Inc. v. Jobar Int'l, Inc., 551 F.2d 784, 787 (9th Cir. 1977).

         If plaintiffs seek to invoke specific personal jurisdiction, they must establish jurisdiction for “each claim asserted against a defendant.” Picot, 780 F.3d at 1211 (quoting Action Embroidery Corp. v. Atl. Embroidery, Inc., 368 F.3d 1174, 1180 (9th Cir. 2004)). If personal jurisdiction exists over one claim, but not others, the district court may exercise pendent personal jurisdiction over any remaining claims that arise out of the same “common nucleus of operative facts” as the claim for which jurisdiction exists. Id.


         I. Judicial Notice

         Plaintiffs request that the court take judicial notice of the original complaint filed in this action. (Doc. No. 9 at 1.) The court may take judicial notice of its own files and of documents filed in other courts. Reyn's Pasta Bella, LLC v. Visa USA, Inc., 442 F.3d 741, 746 n.6 (9th Cir. 2006). However, the court need not take judicial notice of prior filings submitted in the same case. See, e.g., Ortega v. Univ. of the Pac, No. S-13-1426 KJM EFB, 2013 WL 6054447, at *3 (E.D. Cal. Nov. 15, 2013) (finding it unnecessary to take judicial notice of a complaint filed in the same case). Plaintiffs' request will therefore be denied.

         II. Personal Jurisdiction

         Defendant moves to dismiss plaintiffs' complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction. “Where, as here, there is no applicable federal statute governing personal jurisdiction, the law of the state in which the district court sits applies.” Core-Vent Corp. v. Nobel Indus. AB, 11 F.3d 1482, 1484 (9th Cir. 1993); see also Yahoo! v. La Ligue Contre Le Racisme, 433 F.3d 1199, 1205 (9th Cir. 2006) (en banc) (same). “California's long-arm statute allows courts to exercise personal jurisdiction over defendants to the extent permitted by the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution.” Core-Vent Corp., 11 F.3d at 1484; see also Cal. Civ. Pro. Code § 410.10 (“A court of this state may exercise jurisdiction on any basis not inconsistent with the Constitution of this state or of the United States.”); Love, 611 F.3d at 608-09. Thus, only constitutional principles constrain the jurisdiction of a federal court in California. Love, 611 F.3d at 608-09; Boschetto, 539 F.3d at 1015; Sher v. Johnson, 911 F.2d 1357, 1361 (9th Cir. 1990).

         Under the Fourteenth Amendment due process clause, courts may exercise personal jurisdiction over nonresident defendants only so long as there exist sufficient “minimum contacts” between the defendant and the forum state. World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 292 (1980); see also Ranza v. Nike, Inc., 793 F.3d 1059, 1068 (9th Cir. 2015); Harris Rutsky & Co. Ins. Servs., Inc. v. Bell & Clements Ltd., 328 F.3d 1122, 1129 (9th Cir. 2003). Maintenance of the suit must “not offend traditional notions of ...

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