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Sutcliffe v. Honeywell International, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Arizona

March 30, 2015

Cameron Sutcliffe, et al., Plaintiffs,
Honeywell International, Inc., et al., Defendants.


PAUL G. ROSENBLATT, District Judge.

Pending before the Court is Defendants Airbus Military, S.L.'s and EADS Construcciones Aeronauticas S.A.'s Motion to Dismiss the Second Amended Complaint for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2) (Doc. 38). Having considered the parties' memoranda in light of the relevant record, the Court finds the motion should be granted pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2) because the Court lacks personal jurisdiction over either Airbus Military, S.L. or EADS Construcciones Aeronáuticas S.A.[1]


This action arises from the crash of a CASA C212-CC40, a twin engine aircraft ("the Aircraft"), in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada on April 1, 2011. On the day of the crash, the Aircraft, owned by non-party Fugro Aviation Canada Ltd., was being used to conduct an aerial geophysical survey near Saskatoon. On board the Aircraft were two pilots, Cameron Sutcliffe and Brock Gorrell, and an equipment operator, Iaroslav Gorokhovski. Approximately three hours into the flight, the Aircraft's right engine failed and the pilots attempted to return to the Saskatoon airport but could not do so because the Aircraft's left engine failed about fourteen minutes later while the Aircraft was on its final approach to the airport and the Aircraft ended up crashing into a noise abatement wall next to a street in Saskatoon. Both pilots were injured in the crash, and Gorokhovski was killed. The Second Amended Complaint ("SAC"), filed by plaintiffs Sutcliffe and Gorell and Galina Gorokhovskaia, in her personal capacity and on behalf of Gorokhovski's beneficiaries, alleges a separate claim of negligence against each of three groups of defendants: Honeywell International, Inc., alleged to be the successor to Garrett, the company that designed, manufactured and distributed the Aircraft's TPE331 turboprop engines; EADS Construcciones Aeronáuticas, S.A. ("EADS CASA") and Airbus Military S.L. ("Airbus Military"), both alleged to be the manufacturer of the C212 aircraft, with Airbus Military alleged to be the successor to EADS CASA; and Shimadzu Corporation and Shimadzu Precision Instruments, Inc., alleged to be suppliers of components used in the Aircraft's engines.[2]

More specifically, Count Three of the SAC alleges that EADS CASA and Airbus Military, without distinguishing between them, "failed to meet the duties [of care to pilots and passengers in CASA C-212 aircraft] required of them as the designer, manufacturer, type certificate holder, and distributor of the Aircraft" (¶ 49), and that their acts of negligence did or could include the following (¶ 50):

A. Failing to conduct adequate test[ing] to ensure the Aircraft could be safely operated with one engine inoperative;
B. Designing a fuel system which was incapable of supplying the collector tank with sufficient fuel when the Aircraft was flown banked in the operating engine;
C. Failing to include screens on the ejector pumps;
D. Specifying inspection techniques and intervals that were unable to detect foreign objects in ejector pumps and fuel tanks;
E. Failing to have an effective system in place to identify and report engine failures caused by low fuel levels in collector tanks, including failures identified in service difficulty, incident and accident reports, warranty claims, and communications with engine and fuel pump manufacturers, operators, repair stations, pilots, mechanics, transportation safe[ty] boards, and military and civil aviation authorities;
F. Failing to apply state of the art ergonomics and human factors principles in the design of the cockpit, including the annunciator panel;
G. Designing the annunciator panel with lights grouped by system rather than engine;
H. Specifying inadequate emergency procedures to engine failures;
I. Failing to warn that single engine operations could lead to fuel starvation of the operating engine; and
J. Failing to warn of the risks of debris injection by ejector pumps.

The SAC alleges that the named plaintiffs, Sutcliffe, Gorrell and Galina Gorokhovskaia, are all residents of Canada, as was decedent Gorokhovski, and that his beneficiaries are also residents of Canada with the exception of his parents who are alleged to be citizens of the United States residing in Georgia. None of the plaintiffs are alleged to have any connection with Arizona. Defendant Honeywell is alleged to be an Arizona corporation with its principal place of business in Arizona, and defendants EADS CASA and Airbus Military are alleged to be Spanish corporations with their principal places of business in Madrid, Spain.

Personal Jurisdiction-Related Evidence[3]

The defendants have supported their motion with two declarations from Pedro Blanco, EADS CASA's head of legal affairs.[4] The plaintiffs, whose SAC contains no personal jurisdiction allegations, have supported their opposition to the motion with the declaration of Jamie Thornback, a Canadian attorney associated with the plaintiffs who ...

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