United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
Estate of BERNICE KEKONA by its personal representative, Darlene Bloyed, Plaintiff,
ALASKA AIRLINES, INC., an Alaska Corporation; ALASKA AIR GROUP, INC., a Delaware Corporation; and HUNTLEIGH USA CORPORATION, a Missouri Corporation, Defendants.
C. COUGHENOUR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Defendant Huntleigh
USA's (“Huntleigh”) motion to dismiss for
lack of personal jurisdiction (Dkt. No. 20). Having
thoroughly considered the parties' briefing and the
relevant record, the Court GRANTS Huntleigh's motion for
the reasons explained herein.
a wrongful death and survival action brought by the Estate of
Bernice Kekona. (See generally, Dkt. No. 1-2.) The
Court has described the facts of this case in a previous
order and will not repeat them here. (See Dkt. No.
22 at 1-3.) Mrs. Kekona was a citizen of Washington State.
(Dkt. No. 23 at 2.) Defendant Huntleigh is a Missouri
corporation with its principal place of business in Texas.
(Dkt. No. 21 at 1.) Plaintiff alleges Huntleigh failed to
provide a required gate-to-gate escort while Ms. Kekona was
transferring between Alaska Airlines flights at Portland
International Airport and, as a result of that failure, Ms.
Kekona suffered fatal injuries. (Dkt. No. 1-2 at 4‒15,
moves to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(2). (Dkt. No. 20 at 1.)
Standard of Review
against a defendant may be dismissed when a court lacks
personal jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2). When a
defendant seeks dismissal on these grounds, the plaintiff
must prove jurisdiction is appropriate. Picot v.
Weston, 780 F.3d 1206, 1211 (9th Cir. 2015). To
determine whether it has jurisdiction over a defendant, a
federal court applies the law of the state in which it sits,
as long as that law is consistent with federal due process.
Diamler AG v. Bauman, 134 S.Ct. 746, 753 (2014).
Washington grants courts the maximum jurisdictional reach
permitted by due process. Easter v. Am. W. Fin., 381
F.3d 948, 960 (9th Cir. 2004). Thus, the only question
remaining for a Washington district court is whether the
Court's exercise of jurisdiction comports with the
limitations imposed by due process. Helicopteros
Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 413
(1984). A court may not exercise jurisdiction over a
defendant if that exercise of jurisdiction “offend[s]
traditional notions of fair play and substantial
justice.” Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington,
326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945). Fair play and substantial justice
mandate that a defendant has minimum contacts with the forum
state before it may be hailed into a court in that forum.
Id. The extent of those contacts can result in
either general or specific jurisdiction. Goodyear Dunlop
Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 919
(2011). If the requirements for either are met, a court has
jurisdiction over the parties. Helicopteros, 466
U.S. at 413-14.
jurisdiction permits a court to consider claims against a
person or a corporation for any conduct, even that which
occurred outside the forum state. Goodyear, 564 U.S.
at 924; Daimler, 134 S.Ct. at 754. A
corporation's mere presence within a state is not
sufficient to establish general jurisdiction. BNSF Ry.
Co. v. Tyrrell, 137 S.Ct. 1549, 1559 (2017). Rather, the
corporation's contacts with the state must be “so
continuous and systematic as to render [it] essentially at
home.” Goodyear, 564 U.S. at 919. “For
an individual, the paradigm forum for the exercise of general
jurisdiction is the individual's domicile; for a
corporation, it is an equivalent place, one in which the
corporation is fairly regarded as at home.”
Id. “Th[at] inquiry ‘calls for an
appraisal of a corporation's activities in their
entirety.'” BNSF, 137 S.Ct. at 1559
(quoting Daimler, 134 S.Ct. at 761). A corporation
is undeniably “at home” in both the state where
it is incorporated and the state where it is headquartered.
Daimler, 134 S.Ct. at 760. A corporation may also be
considered “at home” outside those states, but
only in “exceptional case[s].” BNSF, 137
S.Ct. at 1558; see Perkins v. Benguet Consol. Mining
Co., 342 U.S. 437, 445-49 (1952) (a foreign corporation
that temporarily relocated its operating headquarters was
subject to the general jurisdiction of the court located in
that venue). However, “‘a corporation that
operates in many places can scarcely be deemed at home in all
of them.'” BNSF, 137 S.Ct. at 1559
(quoting Daimler, 134 S.Ct. at 761).
is a Missouri corporation with a principal place of business
in Texas. (Dkt. No. 21 at 1.) For purposes of general
jurisdiction, Defendant is undeniably at home in those
states. Daimler, 134 S.Ct. at 760. Plaintiff
suggests that Defendant's business operations in
Washington-amounting to 10 percent of its workforce and 14
percent of its revenue-are so great that it is “at
home” in Washington as well. (Dkt. No. 23 at 7-8);
(see Dkt. No. 21 at 2). The Court disagrees. See
BNSF, 137 S.Ct. at 1554, 1559 (United States District
Court for the District of Montana lacked general jurisdiction
over a corporation with activities in multiple states,
including significant revenue and employees in Montana).
Accordingly, the Court finds this Court lacks general
personal jurisdiction over Huntleigh.
jurisdiction permits a district court to exercise
jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant for conduct that
“create[s] a substantial connection with the forum
State.” Walden v. Fiore, 134 S.Ct. 1115, 1121
(2014). To prove that specific jurisdiction exists in a
tort-based action, a plaintiff must demonstrate that: (1) a
defendant purposefully directed its activities at the forum
state, (2) the lawsuit arises out of or relates to the
defendant's forum-related activities, and (3) the
exercise of jurisdiction is reasonable. Picot, 780
F.3d at 1211. A defendant purposefully directs its conduct
toward a forum state when its actions are intended to have an
effect within the state. Schwarzenegger v. Fred Martin
Motor Co., 374 F.3d 797, 803 (9th Cir. 2003). This
occurs if the defendant: “(1) commit[s] an intentional
act, (2) expressly aimed at the forum state, (3) causing harm
that the defendant knows is likely to be suffered in the
forum state.” Morrill v. Scott Financial Co.,
873 F.3d 1136, 1142 (9th Cir. 2017).
Plaintiff alleged that Huntleigh committed an intentional
act-negligently caring for Ms. Kekona at the Portland
International Airport-Plaintiff has not plausibly alleged
that any of Huntleigh's actions in this matter were
expressly aimed at Washington. See Schwarzenegger,
374 F.3d at 807. Plaintiff argues, for example, that as
Alaska Airlines' agent, Huntleigh was bound by the
contract Alaska Airlines entered into with Ms. Kekona in
Washington. (Dkt. No. 23 at 18‒19.) But this is
incorrect. While an agent's actions within a
forum state may subject a foreign principal to that
state's jurisdiction, the inverse is not true. Wells
Fargo & Co. v. Wells Fargo Exp. Co.,556 F.2d 406,
420‒21 (9th Cir. 1977). Plaintiff also argues that
Huntleigh should have known its actions would effect “a
resident of another forum.” (Dkt. No. 23 at 1.) But a
“mere foreseeable ...