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Lavinia Aircraft Leasing LLC v. Piper Aircraft Inc.

United States District Court, D. Arizona

April 11, 2017

Lavinia Aircraft Leasing, LLC; Thomas McDermott, Plaintiffs,
Piper Aircraft Inc. et al., Defendants.


          David G. Campbell United States District Judge

         Plaintiffs Lavinia Aircraft Leasing, LLC (“Lavinia”) and Thomas McDermott (“McDermott”) have sued Defendant Pratt & Whitney Canada Corp. (“PWC”) and others for the failure of a PWC engine in a Piper Meridian aircraft. PWC filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims for lack of personal jurisdiction (Doc. 21), and the motion was fully briefed (Docs. 28, 30). After finding that Plaintiffs had failed to establish personal jurisdiction over PWC, the Court elected to delay issuing a final decision and instead allowed Plaintiffs to conduct jurisdictional discovery. Doc. 35. The time period for jurisdictional discovery has closed, and supplemental briefing is complete. Docs. 41, 42. Oral argument will not aid in the Court's decision. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 78(b); Partridge v. Reich, 141 F.3d 920, 926 (9th Cir. 1998). PWC's motion to dismiss will be granted.

         I. Background.

         A. Case History.

         Plaintiff Thomas McDermott is an Arizona resident and the sole member of Lavinia. Doc. 28-1, ¶ 2. He and Lavinia own a 2001 Piper Meridian aircraft and allege that the aircraft's engine exploded on July 7, 2014. Id., ¶¶ 7, 9, 12. Defendant PWC is a foreign corporation with its principal place of business in Quebec, Canada. Doc. 1-1, ¶ 10.

         PWC designs, manufactures, distributes, and markets aircraft engines, including the engine installed in Plaintiffs' plane. Id., ¶ 13. On November 7, 2013, Plaintiff McDermott purchased a used 2001 Piper Meridian aircraft from Cutter Southwest Aviation Aircraft Sales, LLC (“Cutter”). Id., ¶ 7. On July 7, 2014, McDermott was preparing to take off from a Colorado airport when the engine exploded. Id., ¶¶ 7, 9, 12. After the engine failure, McDermott purchased a PWC replacement engine through PWC employees in Arizona. Id., ¶ 22, 23, 25.

         On July 6, 2016, Plaintiffs filed suit asserting theories of strict product liability, negligence, and breach of warranties. Doc. 1-1. On August 25, 2016, the action was removed to this Court based on diversity of citizenship. Doc. 1.

         B. Additional Discovery.

         In its December 20, 2016 order, at Plaintiffs' request, the Court agreed that “Plaintiffs may engage in jurisdictional discovery between [December 20, 2016] and February 3, 2017.” Doc. 35 at 7. The Court further ordered that “Plaintiffs shall file a supplemental memorandum . . . setting forth the additional evidence that supports specific personal jurisdiction, on or before February 8, 2017.” Id. On February 9, 2017, Plaintiffs filed their supplemental memorandum. Doc. 41.

         Plaintiffs submit no additional evidence obtained from jurisdictional discovery. See Id. The docket shows that Plaintiffs took no discovery during the extended discovery period. Instead, Plaintiffs' supplemental brief alleges new facts in an attempt to establish specific personal jurisdiction over PWC. Id. at 3-4. PWC does not argue that the Court may not consider these new facts that were apparently available, but not raised, at the time of Plaintiffs' response brief. Doc. 42. Instead, PWC addresses Plaintiff's argument on the merits and contends that Plaintiffs still fail to establish specific jurisdiction over PWC in Arizona. Id. at 2-6.

         II. Legal Standard.

         Plaintiffs bear the burden of proving that the Court may exercise specific jurisdiction over PWC. Pebble Beach Co. v. Caddy, 453 F.3d 1151, 1154 (9th Cir. 2006). “Where, as here, the defendant's motion is based on written materials rather than an evidentiary hearing, the plaintiff need only make a prima facie showing of jurisdictional facts to withstand the motion to dismiss.” Mavrix Photo, Inc. v. Brand Techs., Inc., 647 F.3d 1218, 1223 (9th Cir. 2011) (citing Brayton Purcell LLP v. Recordon & Recordon, 606 F.3d 1124, 1127 (9th Cir. 2010)). “The plaintiff cannot ‘simply rest on the bare allegations of its complaint, ' but uncontroverted allegations in the complaint must be taken as true.” Id. (quoting Schwarzenegger v. Fred Martin Motor Co., 374 F.3d 797, 800 (9th Cir. 2004)).

         III. Analysis.

         Arizona's long-arm statute, Ariz. R. Civ. P. 4.2(a), applies in this diversity action. See Terracom v. Valley Nat'l Bank,49 F.3d 555, 559 (9th Cir. 1995). Rule 4.2(a) “provides for personal jurisdiction co-extensive with the limits of federal due process.” Doe v. Am. Nat'l Red Cross,112 F.3d 1048, 1050 (9th Cir. 1997) (citation omitted). A corporation “may be subject to personal jurisdiction only when its contacts with the forum state support either specific ...

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