United States District Court, D. Arizona
Salt River Project Agricultural Improvement and Power District, Plaintiff,
Trench France SAS, et al., Defendants.
G. Campbell United States District Judge
Salt River Project filed a complaint against Defendants
Trench Limited (“Trench-Canada”) and Trench
France, S.A.S (“Trench-France”) for a May 2015
explosion at its Santan Generating Station. Doc. 1.
Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of
personal jurisdiction. Docs. 11, 15. At a subsequent hearing,
the Court granted Plaintiff's request for limited
jurisdictional discovery. Doc. 26. Plaintiff completed that
discovery and filed its response. Doc. 44. The motions are
fully briefed, and oral argument will not aid the Court's
decision. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 78(b); LRCiv 7.2(f).
For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant the motion
alleges that it sustained damages probably caused by Trench
bushing explosions in 2008, 2010, and 2011. Doc. 1 ¶ 8.
Trench-France designed the bushings and Trench-Canada
manufactured them. Doc. 11 at 20; Doc. 15 at 20.
Trench-Canada sold the bushings to Austria-based VA Tech EBG
Transformatoren, GmbH & Co. (“VA Tech”) in
2003. Doc. 15 at 20. Plaintiff subsequently purchased VA Tech
transformers which included the Trench bushings as component
parts. Defendants were not party to this purchase agreement
(Doc. 11 at 20; Doc. 15 at 20), but Trench-Canada has sold
bushings in Arizona as recently as 2012 through an
independent sales representative (Doc. 11 at 21; see
Doc. 55-1 at 2-23 (filed under seal)). Its last sale of
bushings to Plaintiff was in 2010, although those bushings
are not involved in this case. Doc. 11 at 21.
response to the first two explosions, Trench-France and
Trench-Canada engineers visited Plaintiff's facilities on
April 28, 2010. Doc. 1 ¶ 9. Defendants transported the
failed bushings from Plaintiff's facilities to plants in
France and Canada for testing. See Doc. 45-1 at
17-18; Doc. 55-1 at 44 (filed under seal). In 2014,
Trench-Canada requested testing data from Plaintiff.
See Doc. 55-1 at 86-89 (filed under seal).
Trench-Canada investigated similar bushing failures at other
Arizona energy companies in 2011, 2012, and 2013.
See Docs. 55-1 at 43-83, 55-2 at 10- 19 (filed under
decided in 2012 to replace all high-voltage (230 kV and 500
kV) Trench bushings in its system. Doc. 1 ¶ 12.
Trench-France subsequently published a 2014 safety advisory
that some 230 kV Trench bushings had unusually high failure
rates, causing fires and explosions. Doc. 1 ¶ 13; Doc.
45-13. Plaintiff then contacted Defendants to determine the
reliability of their lower-voltage bushings. Doc. 1 ¶
14. Pursuant to Defendants' recommendations, Plaintiff
installed monitors on multiple Trench bushings, including 69
kV bushings at the Santan Generating Station. Doc. 1. ¶
14. The monitors, manufactured by Defendant Doble Engineering
Company, were designed to warn Plaintiff of imminent bushing
failures. Doc. 1 ¶ 14.
15, 2015, a Trench 69 kV bushing at Plaintiff's Santan
Generating Station exploded without warning, causing
approximately three million dollars in damages. Doc. 1 ¶
15. Plaintiff filed this action alleging negligence and
strict products liability against Defendants. Doc. 1
withstand a 12(b)(2) motion, the plaintiff must show that the
defendant is properly subject to the court's
jurisdiction. Mavrix Photo, Inc. v. Brand Techs.,
Inc., 647 F.3d 1218, 1223 (9th Cir. 2011). “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.” Id.
“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)). In ruling on
such a motion, the Court considers the pleadings and any
materials submitted by the parties, accepting as true any
uncontroverted allegations in the complaint and resolving any
factual conflicts in the plaintiff's favor. Id.
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). “[A] corporation may be subject to personal
jurisdiction only when its contacts with the forum support
either specific or general jurisdiction.” Martinez
v. Aero Caribbean, 764 F.3d 1062, 1068 (9th Cir. 2014)
(citing Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S.
argues that Defendants are subject to specific jurisdiction.
See Doc. 44. Specific jurisdiction exists if a
foreign corporation's contacts with the forum give rise
or relate to the cause of action before the Court.
Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S.Ct. 746, 754 (2014). The
Ninth Circuit employs a three-prong test to determine whether
a non-resident has sufficient minimum contacts for specific
(1) [T]he defendant must either purposefully direct his
activities toward the forum or purposefully avail himself of
the privileges of conducting activities in the forum; (2) the
claim must be one which arises out of or relates to the
defendant's forum-related activities; and (3) the
exercise of jurisdiction must comport with fair play and
substantial justice, i.e. it must be reasonable.
Axiom Foods, Inc. v. Acerchem Int'l, Inc., 874
F.3d 1064, 1068 (9th Cir. 2017). Plaintiff has the burden of
satisfying the first two elements. Id. If it does,
Defendants must show that the exercise of ...