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Haines v. Get Air LLC

United States District Court, D. Arizona

February 13, 2017

Blake Haines, Plaintiff,
v.
Get Air LLC, et al., Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          ERIC J. MARKOVICH, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This personal injury action involves a dispute between the Plaintiff, Blake Haines, and the Defendant companies: Get Air, LLC, Quality Foam & Fiber Products, Inc., and Pacific Urethanes, LLC. Haines was injured while performing a flip at Get Air Tucson, an indoor trampoline park, and is now a quadriplegic. Haines alleges Defendant Get Air, LLC produced a defective Employee Handbook (“EH”) used by Get Air Tucson. Haines further alleges that Defendant Pacific Urethanes, LLC manufactured defective foam that Defendant Quality Foam & Fiber Products, Inc. defectively cut into blocks, which were used at Get Air Tucson. Haines' claims against the Defendant companies are based on negligence, products liability, and implied warranties.

         Pending before the Court is Defendant Get Air, LLC's Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. 97). Get Air, LLC alleges that this Court lacks personal jurisdiction over it because Get Air, LLC has not engaged in any business in Arizona and because there are no facts supporting general or specific personal jurisdiction over it. Plaintiff contends that he has made a prima facie showing that the defective EH used by Get Air Tucson was created and supplied by Get Air, LLC and therefore Get Air, LLC purposefully directed its conduct at Arizona. (Doc. 102 at 14). Alternatively, Plaintiff argues that there remains a factual dispute regarding personal jurisdiction which must be resolved in his favor. Id. at 16.

         Pursuant to the Rules of Practice of this Court, this matter was referred to the undersigned for a Report and Recommendation. (Doc. 25).

         The motion has been fully briefed by the parties, and the Court heard oral arguments on June 6, 2016. The Court then allowed the parties additional time to conduct jurisdictional discovery, and the parties submitted supplemental briefs on January 17, 2017. (Docs. 154, 155). For the reasons stated below, the Magistrate Judge recommends that the District Court enter an ordering denying Get Air, LLC's Motion to Dismiss.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On September 8, 2013 Haines was at the Get Air Tucson indoor trampoline park and performed a move where he flipped multiple times off of a platform and into a foam pit. (Doc. 12 at 9). Haines “suffered catastrophic injuries from the maneuver, including fractured cervical vertebrae resulting in paralysis.” Id. Following this incident, Haines filed suit in Pima County Superior Court on September 5, 2014 against the following defendants: Get Air Tucson, Inc.; Get Air Tucson Trampolines, LLC; Get Air Management, Inc.; Get Air, LLC; Trampoline Parks, LLC; Patti Goodell; Jacob Goodell; Kiersten Goodell; Scott Goodell; Alan McEwan Jr.; Val Iverson, individually and as owner or operator of Trampoline Parks, LLC; Jane and/or John Does #s 1-20; ABC Corporations 1-10; XYZ Partnerships 1-10; and ABC Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs) 1-10. (Doc. 6 Ex. 1). Haines alleged claims for negligence, negligent design, negligence in safety standards, negligent supervision, negligent hiring and training of personnel, piercing the corporate veil, and punitive damages. Id.

         On January 5, 2015, Defendant Get Air Tucson Trampolines, LLC removed the case to this Court, alleging all parties were diverse and the amount in controversy exceeded $75, 000.00. (Doc. 1 at 1-2). Get Air Tucson Trampolines, LLC stated its removal was timely because it was served on December 6, 2014 and 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b) requires removal within 30 days of service. Id. at 2-3. Get Air Tucson Trampolines, LLC did not indicate whether any of the other defendants joined or consented to the removal.

         On January 13, 2015, Haines filed a Notice of Filing Amended Pleading Pursuant to LRCiv 15.1(b), averring that no defendant had filed an answer to his original Complaint. (Doc. 8). Haines' First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) named Alicia Durfee and Scott Hansen as additional defendants, and alleged Durfee was a manager or supervisor at Get Air Tucson, and Hansen was an employee who was acting as a de facto manager at the time of Haines' injury. (Doc. 12 at 5-6).

         On January 23, 2015, Haines filed a Motion to Remand to State Court. (Doc. 17). Haines alleged two arguments in his motion: One, the federal court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because there was not complete diversity among the parties, and two, removal was procedurally improper because the removing party did not establish unanimity among all served defendants for removal. Id. at 1-2. Get Air Tucson Trampolines, LLC and the Goodell, Durfee, and Hansen defendants counter argued that Haines' addition of Hansen and Durfee as parties was a “thinly veiled attempt to avoid federal jurisdiction.” (Doc. 19 at 1).

         Following oral arguments on the Motion to Remand, the Court granted the Motion on April 15, 2015 and remanded this matter back to Pima County Superior Court. (Doc. 31). The Court concluded that the case was improperly removed to federal court because all properly served defendants had failed to join or consent to the removal, and because Haines properly added Hansen and Durfee as defendants in his FAC, which destroyed the Court's diversity jurisdiction.

         Following remand, the Plaintiff and several defendants entered into a settlement agreement. The Superior Court then dismissed the defendants who were parties to the settlement agreement, leaving two remaining defendants: Get Air, LLC and Quality Foam & Fiber Products, Inc. (Doc. 32 Ex. 3).

         On June 12, 2015 Defendant Get Air, LLC removed the case to this Court, alleging that all parties are diverse due to the Superior Court's dismissal of the non-diverse defendants, and that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.00. (Doc. 32 at 1-2). Defendant Quality Foam & Fiber Products, Inc. filed a notice consenting to and joining in the notice of removal. (Doc. 35). On July 2, 2015, the Court issued an order directing the Clerk to reopen the case and to recognize Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”) (filed in Superior Court) as the operative complaint in this matter. (Doc. 39).

         On July 30, 2015 Defendant Get Air, LLC filed a Motion to Dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and failure to state a cause of action pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 8 and Rule 12(b). (Doc. 43). On August 25, 2015 Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint to add and clarify allegations specific to Defendant Get Air, LLC, and to add Pacific Urethanes, LLC as a products liability defendant. (Doc. 45). On February 8, 2016 the District Court entered an Order adopting the undersigned's Report and Recommendation, granting Plaintiff's Motion to Amend and denying Get Air, LLC's Motion to Dismiss as moot. (Doc. 83).

         On February 8, 2016 Plaintiff filed his Third Amended Complaint (“TAC”), which names Pacific Urethanes, LLC as an additional products liability defendant. (Doc. 84). The TAC also alleges that Get Air, LLC developed defective safety rules and supplied them to Get Air Tucson.

         On March 1, 2016, Defendant Get Air, LLC filed a Motion to Dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, arguing that it has not engaged in any business in Arizona, and that there are no facts supporting general or specific personal jurisdiction over it. (Doc. 97).[1]Get Air, LLC specifically argues that the EH used by Get Air Tucson was created by Amy Iverson, an independent contractor for Trampoline Parks, LLC, and that Get Air, LLC had no knowledge or intent that the EH would be distributed to or utilized by Get Air Tucson. Plaintiff contends that Amy Iverson received the assignment to review and edit the EH from Get Air, LLC, and that the EH was knowingly provided by Get Air, LLC to Jacob Goodell to take to Tucson. (Doc. 154 at 5).

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         To establish a prima facie case for personal jurisdiction, the plaintiff must show that: (1) the forum state's long-arm statute confers jurisdiction over the nonresident defendant; and (2) the exercise of jurisdiction comports with principles of due process. Omeluk v. Langsten Slip & Batbyggeri A/S, 52 F.3d 267, 269 (9th Cir. 1995). The Arizona long-arm jurisdictional statute provides that this Court “may exercise personal jurisdiction over parties, whether found within or outside this state, to the maximum extent permitted by the Constitution of this state and the Constitution of the United States.” Ariz. R. Civ. P. 4.2(a). “Because the [state] Constitution imposes no greater restriction than does the U.S. Constitution, federal courts in [Arizona] may exercise jurisdiction to the fullest extent permitted by due process.” Scott v. Breeland, 792 F.2d 925, 927 (9th Cir. 1986) (citing Data Disc, Inc. v. Sys. Tech. Assocs., 557 F.2d 1280, 1285 (9th Cir. 1997)). Thus, the due process analysis under Arizona state law and federal law is the same.

         Due process requires that a nonresident defendant have sufficient “minimum contacts” with the forum state such 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) (internal quotations and citation omitted). “The party seeking to invoke the court's jurisdiction bears the burden of establishing that jurisdiction exists.” Scott, 792 F.2d at 927 (citing Data Disc, Inc., 557 F.2d at 1285). Analysis of whether the Court has specific jurisdiction[2] over the nonresident defendant requires a three-pronged test:

(1) The non-resident defendant must purposefully direct [its] activities or consummate some transaction with the forum or resident thereof; or perform some act by which [it] purposefully avails [itself] of the privilege of conducting activities in the forum, thereby invoking the benefits and protections of its laws; (2) the claim must be one which arises out of or relates to the defendant's forum related activities; and (3) the ...

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