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Sia v. Berhad

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

April 20, 2017

HENRY TANAYA SIA, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
AIRASIA BERHAD, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          Thomas S. Zilly United States District Judge

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on defendant Artus S.A.S's (“Artus”), and defendant AirAsia Berhad's (collectively “defendants”), motions to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, docket nos. 50, 58. Having reviewed the motions and all relevant filings, the Court enters the following Order.[1]

         Background

         This case arises from the tragic December 28, 2014, crash of an Airbus A320 airplane operating as AirAsia Flight 8501 (“Flight 8501”). Complaint, docket no. 1, Common Allegations of Fact ¶ 6. In the early morning on December 28, Flight 8501 crashed into the Java Sea while carrying passengers from Indonesia to Singapore, killing everyone on board. Complaint, Common Allegations of Fact at ¶¶ 6-7. None of the passengers or crew were United States citizens. Decl. of Paul Devaux, docket no. 51, ¶ 25.

         Plaintiffs in this action are the children of passengers Soetikno Sia and Christien Yuanita Jou and the Administrators of their estates. Complaint, Common Allegations of Fact at ¶¶ 2-3. Plaintiffs filed this multi-defendant action in federal court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1369, commonly known as the Multiparty, Multiforum Jurisdiction Act. Complaint, Jurisdiction and Venue at ¶ 2.

         A. Defendant Artus

         Plaintiffs allege that the cause of the fatal crash was, in part, a defective Rudder Travel Limiter Unit (“RTLU”) manufactured, assembled, designed, and sold by Artus and defendant Danaher Corporation “individually as principal-agent, and/or as a joint enterprise.” Complaint, Count IV at ¶ 10-12. Artus is a legal entity organized under the laws of France with its headquarters and principal place of business in Avrillè, France. Devaux Decl. at ¶ 4. The allegedly defective RTLU installed on Flight 8501 was manufactured by Artus in France in May of 2008 and sold to Airbus in Toulouse, France the same month. Id. at 19, 21-22.

         Artus does not maintain offices or own or rent any real property, maintain bank accounts, or hold any other type of asset in the United States. Id. at 8-9, 11. Artus does not pay taxes or manufacture products in the United States nor is it authorized to do business in the United States. Id. at 11-12, 14. All sales of Artus's products are made in France and only a small portion of Artus's global sales revenue, approximately 10.8%, is derived from products ultimately delivered to customers in the United States. Id. at 15. Artus has no agent for service of process in the United States, and it has no ownership interest in any United States-based company. Id. at 13-14.

         B. Defendant AirAsia

         Flight 8501 was operated by PT Indonesia AirAsia, a partially owned affiliate of AirAsia Berhad. Decl. of Amir Faezal Zakaria, docket no. 60, ¶ 22. Plaintiffs allege that AirAsia Berhad breached its duty of care to Soetikno Sia and Christien Yuanita Jou by failing to adequately maintain, monitor, and repair the Airbus A320 aircraft operated by its affiliate and/or to instruct PT Indonesia AirAsia to repair the “dangerous and unsafe” condition of the airplane. Complaint, Count I at ¶ 14-15. PT Indonesia AirAsia is organized under Indonesian law with its principal place of business in Indonesia. Zakaria Decl. at ¶ 23. AirAsia Berhad is organized under Malaysian Law with its principal place of business in Malaysia. Id. at ¶ 5. Neither AirAsia Berhad nor PT Indonesia AirAsia operated flights to the United States during the time period relevant to this litigation. Id. at ¶¶ 6, 25.

         Like Artus, neither AirAsia Berhad nor PT Indonesia AirAsia have offices or own property in the United States. Id. at ¶¶ 8, 12, 26-27. And neither airline has paid taxes, is registered to do business, or has employees or a registered agent in the United States. Id. at ¶¶ 9-12, 27, 29-31.

         Discussion

         A. Legal Standard

         When a defendant invokes Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) in a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and the Court holds no evidentiary hearing, the plaintiff need only make a prima facie showing of personal jurisdiction. See Harris Rutsky & Co. Ins. Servs., Inc. v. Bell & Clements Ltd., 328 F.3d 1122, 1128-29 (9th Cir. 2003). Though a plaintiff generally cannot rest on the bare allegations of its complaint, uncontroverted allegations must be taken as true. Mavrix Photo, Inc. v. Brand Technologies, Inc., 647 F.3d 1218, 1223 (9th Cir. 2011) (citing Schwarzenegger v. Fred Martin Motor Co., 374 F.3d 797, 800 (9th Cir. 2004)). The ...


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