United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
HONORABLE JOHN C. COUGHENOUR, JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Defendant Ipeco Holdings,
Ltd.'s (“Ipeco”) motion to dismiss (Dkt. No.
66) and Plaintiffs' motion for an award of costs and fees
(Dkt. No. 67). Having thoroughly considered the parties'
briefing and the relevant record, the Court hereby DENIES
Ipeco's motion to dismiss (Dkt. No. 66) and DENIES
Plaintiffs' motion for an award of costs and fees (Dkt.
No. 67) for the reasons explained herein.
a product liability action brought by a group of American
Airlines crewmembers and their spouses. (Dkt. No. 67 at 6.)
Plaintiffs allege that they endured a near-death experience
while on a flight from New York to Argentina caused by a
defective first-officer's seat (the “Subject
Seat”) designed and manufactured by Ipeco. (Dkt. No. 1
October 3, 2014, American Airlines Flight 953 departed JFK
International Airport in New York bound for Buenos Aires,
Argentina. (Id. at 8.) Just over 100 miles north of
Buenos Aires, the plane experienced a sudden negative g-force
descent, causing passengers and crewmembers to hit the cabin
ceiling as well as other inflight disorder. (Id. at
9.) Plaintiffs allege this unexpected descent occurred
because a switch on the Subject Seat caused it to be moved
into the full-forward position leading to an inadvertent
disengagement of the plane's autopilot function.
(Id. at 8.) Plaintiffs further allege that design
and manufacturing defects with the Subject Seat and its
components caused this unsafe condition. (Id.) The
pilots were eventually able to overcome the emergency and
safely land the plane in Buenos Aires. (Id. at 10.)
Plaintiffs allege physical, mental, and emotional injuries as
a result of the inflight incident. (Id.)
subject plane was a Boeing 777-200, manufactured by Defendant
the Boeing Company (“Boeing”). (Id. at
8.) The Subject Seat was designed and manufactured by Ipeco
at its facilities in the United Kingdom. (Dkt. No. 66-2 at
2.) Post-production, Ipeco is alleged to have shipped the
seat to Boeing at its manufacturing plant in Everett,
Washington. (Dkt. No. 67-7 at 2.) Boeing installed the seat
during the manufacturing of the subject plane, which it then
sold to American Airlines. (Dkt. No. 67-5 at 1.)
initially brought suit in the Central District of California
against Boeing and Ipeco's U.S. subsidiary, Ipeco Inc.
(“Ipeco USA”). (Dkt. Nos. 67-1, 67-4, 66-2 at 3.)
Plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit when they
learned that Ipeco USA was not a proper party because it did
not manufacture the Subject Seat. (Dkt. No. 67 at 7.)
Plaintiffs subsequently refiled their lawsuit against Boeing
and Ipeco in the Eastern District of New York. (Id.)
Plaintiffs chose New York because Boeing had offices in the
state, the flight had departed from New York, and Plaintiffs
believed, incorrectly, that Ipeco had shipped the Subject
Seat to New York. (Id.)
moved to dismiss the case for lack of personal jurisdiction.
(Dkt. No. 33.) After the New York Court, Honorable Carol B.
Amon, ordered jurisdictional discovery, Plaintiffs learned
that Ipeco had shipped the Subject Seat from Great Britain to
Washington. (Dkt. No. 67-7 at 8.) Rather than respond to
Ipeco's motion to dismiss, Plaintiffs asked Judge Amon to
transfer the case to the Western District of Washington.
(Dkt. Nos. 33, 67-3 at 3.) After a hearing, Judge Amon
granted Plaintiffs' motion to transfer the case to this
Court. (Dkt. Nos. 42, 67-3 at 28.)
Court was assigned the case on May 2, 2017. (Dkt. No. 43.) On
June 6, 2017, Ipeco filed an answer to Plaintiffs'
complaint. (Dkt. No. 63.) On November 11, 2017, the parties
appeared before the Court for a status conference. (Dkt. No.
65.) On December 14, 2017, Ipeco filed this motion to dismiss
for lack of personal jurisdiction. (Dkt. No. 66.)
Rule 12(b)(2) Motion for Lack of Personal
defendant moves to dismiss a case pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(2), the plaintiff bears the burden of
demonstrating personal jurisdiction exists. See Sher v.
Johnson, 911 F.2d 1357, 1361 (9th Cir. 1990) (citation
omitted). If a 12(b)(2) motion is supported only by written
materials, such as the pleadings and affidavits, “the
plaintiff need only make a prima facie showing of
jurisdictional facts.” Id. The Court must
resolve conflicts in the documentary evidence in favor of the
plaintiff. Rio Properties, Inc. v. Rio Int'l
Interlink, 284 F.3d 1007, 1019 (9th Cir. 2002).
outset, the Court must resolve a factual dispute regarding
Ipeco's contacts with Washington. The parties present
conflicting evidence about whether Ipeco shipped the Subject
Seat from Great Britain to Washington or whether Boeing
arranged for shipment. (Compare Dkt. No. 66-2 at 2,
with Dkt. Nos. 67-3, 67-4, 67-6, 67-7.) Ipeco
included with its motion a declaration from its Finance
Director Sara Nash, who stated the following regarding the
shipment of the Subject Seat:
Ipeco Holdings made the Subject Seat available to Boeing for
pickup at Ipeco Holdings' facilities in the United
Kingdom, and shipment of the Subject Seat from the United
Kingdom to Boeing's facilities in Washington State was
arranged for by Boeing pursuant to Boeing's shipping
instructions and Boeing's choice of mode of
(Dkt. No. 66-2 at 2.) Based on Nash's declaration, Ipeco
argues that it was not involved in shipping the Subject Seat
to Washington. (Dkt. No. 66 at 14.) Plaintiffs answer with
significant evidence that Ipeco shipped-or was at least
involved in shipping-the Subject Seat.
Plaintiffs point to the seat's sales invoice. (Dkt. No.
67-7.) The Ipeco-generated invoice indicates that the seat
was to be shipped to Boeing's plant in Everett,
Washington and lists the method of shipment. (Id.)
Next, Plaintiffs point to two declarations filed by Ipeco USA
in the prior lawsuit in California. (Dkt. Nos. 67-4, 67-6.)
One is from Ipeco USA's General Manager who stated
“Ipeco UK sells and ships all new and replacement
Flight Deck Seats for use on Boeing commercial aircraft
directly to Boeing . . . .” (Dkt. No. 67-4 at 3.) The
second is from Boeing's procurement agent for Ipeco
flight deck seats who stated “Boeing orders the seats
directly from IPECO Holdings, Ltd. in the United Kingdom;
thereafter IPECO Holdings, Ltd. ships the seats directly from
the United Kingdom to Boeing in Washington.” (Dkt. No.
67-6 at 3.)
Plaintiffs point to a statement made by Ipeco's counsel
during the hearing before Judge Amon to determine whether the
case should be transferred to this Court. Ipeco's counsel
stated on the record: “We should never have been in the
Eastern District of New York when in September of 2016, we
gave them a declaration that said Ipeco Holdings ships seats
directly from the United Kingdom to Boeing in
Washington.” (Dkt. No. 67-3 at 11.)
this competing evidence, the Court must resolve the dispute
in favor of the Plaintiffs. The Court concludes for the
purposes of this motion that Ipeco shipped the Subject Seat
Plaintiffs' Theories of Personal Jurisdiction
asserts that the Court lacks personal jurisdiction because
the company has only minimal contacts with Washington that
are unrelated to the claims in this lawsuit. (Dkt. No. 66 at
10.) Plaintiffs oppose the motion on three grounds. First,
they argue Ipeco consented to personal jurisdiction based on
its litigation conduct. (Dkt. No. 67 at 12.) Second,
Plaintiffs argue the issue of personal jurisdiction was
mooted when Judge Amon transferred the case to this Court.
(Id. at 14.) Third, Plaintiffs assert this Court has