United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
OLYMPIC AIR, INC. and CATLIN INSURANCE COMPANY, INC. Plaintiffs,
HELICOPTER TECHNOLOGY COMPANY, et al., Defendants. WILLIAM G. REED and MARY E. REED, Plaintiffs,
HELICOPTER TECHNOLOGY COMPANY, et al. Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT MD HELICOPTER, INC.'S
MOTION TO DISMISS AMENDED CONSOLIDATED COMPLAINT
S. Lasnik United States District Judge.
matter comes before the Court on defendant MD Helicopter,
Inc.'s (“MDHI”) motion to dismiss
plaintiffs' First Amended Consolidated Complaint. Dkt.
22, 2014, plaintiff William G. Reed was piloting an MDHI
Model (originally a “Hughes Model”) 369D
helicopter (“the Helicopter”), Registration No.
N5225C, near Oso, Washington in the scope of his employment
with Olympic Air, Inc. Dkt. #47 at ¶¶ 4.1, 5.1. The
Helicopter has five rotor blades. Id. at ¶ 4.1.
Plaintiffs allege that one of the blades, Part No.
500P2100-105, Serial No. SN091B, failed and caused a crash.
Id. at ¶¶ 4.1-4.2. The blade was
manufactured by defendant Helicopter Technology Company
(“HTC”) and sold by defendant HTC in October 2012
as one of a set of five blades to Olympic Air. Id.
at ¶¶ 3.1, 4.1. Post-crash inspection revealed that
the blade had disbanded at the root fitting, and that a
second blade was in the process of failing at the time that
it fractured. Id. at ¶ 4.2; see Ex. B,
Dkt. #48 at 10-19. The pilot had carried out inspections
prior to the flight but had looked primarily at the root
fitting and the metal. The need to inspect the bond line for
cracks was not clear to him until after the accident, when
new service advisories were issued to that effect. Ex. B,
Dkt. #48 at 19.
MDHI is a corporation organized and existing under the laws
of the State of Arizona, with its principal place of business
in Mesa, Arizona. Id. at ¶ 3.2. Plaintiffs
brought action against MDHI pursuant to the common law of
negligence and the Washington Product Liability Act,
see RCW 7.72.010 et seq. Their claims are
based on HTC's reliance on the rotor blade designs
promulgated by MDHI and MDHI's creation and distribution
of service instructions, bulletins and other advisories that
failed to provide adequate warning to users of signs of
imminent failure of the rotor blades. Dkt. #45 at ¶ 8.4. MDHI
filed a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(2) for lack of personal jurisdiction. Dkt.
must prove that the Court has personal jurisdiction over
MDHI. Harris Rutsky & Co. Ins. Servs. v. Bell &
Clements Ltd., 328 F.3d 1122, 1128-29 (9th Cir. 2003)
(citing Doe, I v. Unocal Corp., 248 F.3d
915, 922 (9th Cir. 2001) (per curiam)). Where there is no
applicable federal statute governing personal jurisdiction,
the district court applies the law of the state in which the
district court sits. Schwarzenegger v. Fred Martin Motor
Co., 374 F.3d 797, 800 (9th Cir. 2004) (citing
Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(k)(1)(A)). As Washington's long-arm
statute is co-extensive with the outer limits of due process,
the Court need only ensure that the constitutional
requirements for personal jurisdiction are met. Cognigen
Networks, Inc. v. Cognigen Corp., 174 F.Supp.2d 1134,
1137 (W.D. Wash. 2001) (citing Chan v. Society
Expeditions, Inc., 39 F.3d 1398, 1404-05 (9th Cir.
process requires that MDHI have “certain minimum
contacts with [the forum] such that the maintenance of the
suit does not offend ‘traditional notions of fair play
and substantial justice.'” Int'l Shoe Co.
v. State of Wash., Office of Unemployment Comp. &
Placement, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945) (quoting
Milliken v. Meyer, 311 U.S. 457, 463 (1940)).
Plaintiffs contend that MDHI is subject to this Court's
specific personal jurisdiction. Dkt. #45 at ¶¶
6.1-6.3. The Ninth Circuit employs a three-part test to
determine whether there is specific personal jurisdiction.
First, the non-resident defendant must purposefully direct
its activities or consummate some transaction with the forum
or a resident of the forum, or perform some act by which it
purposefully avails itself of the privilege of conducting
activities in the forum, thereby invoking the benefits and
protections of its laws. Second, the claim must be one that
arises out of or relates to the defendant's forum-related
activities. Third, the exercise of jurisdiction must comport
with fair play and substantial justice; i.e., it must be
reasonable. Picot v. Weston, 780 F.3d 1206, 1211
(9th Cir. 2015) (citing Schwarzenegger, 374 F.3d at
802). As this is a claim sounding in tort, we apply a
“purposeful direction” test and look to evidence
that MDHI directed its activities at the State of Washington,
even if those actions took place elsewhere. Id.
(citing Schwarzenegger, 374 F.3d at 802-03).
have the burden of proving the first two prongs. Id.
(citing CollegeSource, Inc. v. AcademyOne, Inc., 653
F.3d 1066, 1076 (9th Cir. 2011)). If they do so, the burden
shifts to MDHI to set forth a compelling case that the
exercise of jurisdiction would not be reasonable.
Id. at 1212 (citing CollegeSource, 653 F.3d
MDHI's Minimum Contacts with the State of
argue that MDHI purposefully directed its activities at the
State of Washington in several ways, and that their claims
arise out of these forum-related activities. The Court
considers each rationale in turn.
Legal Manufacturer of the Helicopter
legal predecessor, Hughes Helicopters, manufactured the
Helicopter in 1979. Dkt. #45 at ¶ 6.3; Dkt. #12 (Black
Decl.) at ¶ 9. Hughes Helicopters was sold to McDonald
Douglas in 1984. McDonald Douglas merged with Boeing in 1997.
In 1999, the civilian line of Hughes Helicopters was sold to
MD Helicopters Holdings, Inc. In 2005, Patriarch Partners,
LLC purchased the civilian Hughes product line and
recapitalized the company as MDHI. Dkt. #50 at 5-6; Dkt. #32
(Kovarik Decl.) at ¶ 4. Plaintiffs allege that ...