United States District Court, E.D. Michigan
OPINION DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS OR, IN THE
ALTERNATIVE, TO SEVER AND DISMISS, ECF NO. 9 - GRANTED IN
F. LEESON, JR. United States District Court
action, Plaintiff Allstate Insurance Company has filed suit
against Defendant Electrolux Home Products, alleging that
Electrolux manufactured defective clothes dryers that- in
eighty-six separate instances occurring across twenty-one
states- caught fire and caused losses to Allstate's
insureds. Electrolux has filed a motion to dismiss the entire
action for lack of personal jurisdiction pursuant to Rule
12(b)(2) or, in the alternative, to sever the eighty-six
separate claims in this action and, after severance, dismiss
a number of those claims for failure to satisfy the amount in
controversy required for diversity actions. For the reasons
set forth below, the Court grants the second request,
severing each of Allstate's eighty-six claims and
dismissing the sixty-four claims over which the Court lacks
subject matter jurisdiction. Further, of the twenty-two
claims that remain, the Court transfers the nineteen claims
that have no relation to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
to more appropriate districts, and the Court retains the
three claims which originate from the Eastern District of
to the Complaint, Allstate is an insurance company
incorporated in Illinois, with its principal place of
business in the same state. Compl. ¶ 1, ECF No. 1.
Electrolux is a manufacturer of home appliances that is
incorporated in Delaware, with its principal place of
business in North Carolina. Id. ¶ 5-6. Allstate
issued insurance policies to all of the persons listed in
Appendix A of the Complaint. Id. ¶ 2.
Electrolux is the designer, manufacturer, distributor, and
retailer of the ball-hitch style clothes dryers that
allegedly caused fires in each of the eighty-six instances
listed in Appendix A. Id. ¶ 12. As a result of
these fires, the insureds suffered losses for which they were
indemnified by Allstate. Id. ¶ 3.
Electrolux's ball-hitch dryers are allegedly defective
because they cause lint to accumulate and ignite behind the
drum during normal use and because they use plastic,
combustible internal components that allowed the fires to
spread. Id. ¶ 13.
asserts two claims in this action. The first is a products
liability claim in which Allstate asserts that Electrolux is
strictly liable for the damage caused by the alleged
defective and unreasonably dangerous conditions created by
the dryers. Id. ¶¶ 33-45. The second is a
negligence claim in which Allstate alleges that Electrolux
breached its duty by negligently, carelessly, and recklessly
manufacturing the dryers, and that this breach was the legal
and proximate cause of the damage to the properties in
question. Id. ¶¶ 46-51.
response to Allstate's Complaint, Electrolux filed the
present motion, seeking to dismiss this action for lack of
personal jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(2) or, in the alternative, to sever the
claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 21 and to
dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) those newly-severed claims
which fail to meet the amount in controversy requirement.
Standard of Review - Rule 12(b)(2)
Rule 12(b)(2) motion to dismiss standard is as follows:
When reviewing a motion to dismiss for lack of personal
jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2),
[the court] must accept the plaintiff's allegations as
true and resolve disputed facts in favor of the plaintiff.
Pinker v. Roche Holdings Ltd., 292 F.3d 361, 368 (3d
Cir. 2002). However, once a defendant has raised a
jurisdictional defense, the plaintiff must “prove by
affidavits or other competent evidence that jurisdiction is
proper.” See Metcalfe v. Renaissance Marine,
Inc., 566 F.3d 324, 330 (3d Cir. 2009). If an
evidentiary hearing is not held, a plaintiff “need only
establish a prima facie case of personal jurisdiction.”
Id. A plaintiff meets this burden by
“establishing with reasonable particularity sufficient
contacts between the defendant and the forum state.”
Provident Nat. Bank v. California Fed. Sav. & Loan
Assoc., 819 F.2d 434 (3d Cir. 1987).
Campbell v. Fast Retailing USA, Inc., No. CV
14-6752, 2015 WL 9302847, at *2 (E.D. Pa. Dec. 22, 2015).
federal district court is permitted to exercise
“personal jurisdiction over a nonresident of the state
in which the court sits to the extent authorized by the law
of the state.” Arch v. Am. Tobacco Co., 984
F.Supp. 830, 834 (E.D. Pa. 1997) (quoting Provident Nat.
Bank v. California Fed. Sav. & Loan
Ass'n, 819 F.2d 434, 436 (3d Cir. 1987)). Under
Pennsylvania law, a court may exercise personal jurisdiction
to the fullest extent allowed by the United States
Constitution. 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. §§ 5308,
5322(b). Thus, the statutory personal jurisdiction analysis
is incorporated into the overarching question of
“whether the court's assertion of jurisdiction
complies with the constitutional requirement of due process
as articulated in the personal jurisdiction context.”
Arch, 984 F.Supp. at 835 (citing Clark v.
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., 811 F.Supp. 1061, 1064
(M.D. Pa. 1993)). A nonresident defendant may be subject to
jurisdiction in Pennsylvania under either general or specific
personal jurisdiction. Brooks v. Bacardi Rum Corp.,
943 F.Supp. 559, 561 (E.D. Pa. 1996). General jurisdiction
allows suits to be brought against a non-resident corporation
on causes of action arising from dealings distinct from its
activities within the forum. See Goodyear Dunlop Tires
Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 924 (2011). For
a corporation, the “paradigm forum for the exercise of
general jurisdiction is . . . one in which the corporation is
fairly regarded as at home.” Id. Specific
jurisdiction, on the other hand, exists when the defendant
has “purposefully directed his activities at residents
of the forum and the litigation results from alleged injuries
that arise out of or relate to those activities.”
Miller Yacht Sales, Inc. v. Smith, 384 F.3d 93, 96
(3d Cir. 2004) (quoting Burger King Corp. v.
Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 472 (1985)).
This Court has jurisdiction over Electrolux.
Complaint, Allstate alleges that this Court has general
jurisdiction over Electrolux because Electrolux
“purposefully availed itself of the benefit of the laws
of this judicial district by regularly transacting and/or
conducting business in the territorial jurisdiction of this
United States District Court, which is located in the
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.” Compl. ¶ 9.
Electrolux contends that this allegation is insufficient to
establish general jurisdiction over it because Electrolux is
incorporated in a state other than Pennsylvania (Delaware),
has its principal place of business in a state other than
Pennsylvania (North Carolina), and does not have contacts
with Pennsylvania that are so “continuous and
systematic” as to render it essentially at home in the
state. Further, although Electrolux concedes that it is
registered to do business in Pennsylvania, it contends that
such registration is insufficient to establish general
jurisdiction under the United States Supreme Court's
decision in Daimler AG v. Bauman, 571 U.S. 117
(2014), which held that “the exercise of general
jurisdiction in every State in which a corporation
‘engages in a substantial, continuous, and systematic
course of business' . . . is unacceptably grasping,
” id. at 138.
responds that under Pennsylvania's long-arm statute-42
Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5301-Electrolux consented to
jurisdiction when it registered to do business in
Pennsylvania, a result, Allstate contends, that is supported
by the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit's decision
in Bane v. Netlink, Inc., 925 F.2d 637 (3d Cir.
1991). In reply to this argument, Electrolux contends that
Bane is “no longer good law” in light of
the Supreme Court's decision in Daimler and
other recent precedent because Bane “rested on
a reasonableness inquiry that the Supreme Court has since
clarified does not apply in the general jurisdiction
context.” Def.'s Reply Br. 4, ECF No. 11.
pertinent part, Pennsylvania's long-arm statute reads as
a) General rule.--The existence of any of
the following relationships between a person and this
Commonwealth shall constitute a sufficient basis of
jurisdiction to enable the tribunals of this Commonwealth to
exercise general personal jurisdiction over such person, or
his personal representative in the case of an individual, and
to enable such tribunals to render personal orders against
such person or representative:
. . . .
(i) Incorporation under or qualification as a foreign
corporation under the laws of this Commonwealth.
(ii) Consent, to the extent authorized by the consent.
(iii) The carrying on of a continuous and systematic part of
its general business ...