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Klopman-Baerselman v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp.

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

June 4, 2019

ERIC KLOPMAN-BAERSELMAN, as Personal Representative for the Estate of RUDIE KLOPMAN-BAERSELMAN, deceased, Plaintiff,



         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Defendant National Automotive Parts Association's (“NAPA”) Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction (“Motion to Dismiss”). Dkt. 213. The Court has considered the pleadings filed in support of and in opposition to the Motion to Dismiss and the remainder of the record herein. Oral argument is unnecessary.

         For the reasons set forth below, the Court should deny NAPA's Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 213).

         I. BACKGROUND

         On October 27, 2017, Plaintiff filed a complaint in this matter in state court, alleging that Mr. Rudie Klopman-Baerselman's (“Decedent”) exposure to asbestos from asbestos-containing products manufactured, sold, or distributed by the Defendants substantially contributed to his mesothelioma, for which Defendants are liable. Dkt. 1. On July 3, 2019, the case was removed to this Court. Dkt. 1. The complaint was amended once in state court and twice in this Court. Dkts. 68-1, at 688, 743; 72; 88; 90; 107; 154; 166; 167; and 168. The operative complaint is in Dkt. 168.

         The complaint provides that Decedent passed away from mesothelioma on November 25, 2017. Dkt. 168, at 5. Decedent was an employee of Royal Dutch Lloyd and Rotterdam Lloyd and worked as a merchant mariner assigned to several vessels. Dkt. 168, at 6. Decedent was exposed to asbestos and asbestos-containing products while aboard the vessels. Dkt. 168, at 6. Decedent performed all maintenance and friction work on his vehicles from 1966-1997 (with vehicle models ranging from 1950-2016 (Dkt. 151-1, at 4-5)), which exposed him to asbestos and asbestos-containing materials. Dkt. 168, at 6.

         Plaintiff alleges that Decedent was exposed to asbestos-containing brakes, clutches, and gaskets supplied by NAPA. Dkt. 223. Plaintiff alleges that the “Court has jurisdiction over each and every named Defendant” because, “[b]y selling, supplying, distributing, and/or causing to be used asbestos or asbestos-containing products to which Decedent was exposed in Washington, Defendants purposefully availed themselves of the privilege of doing business in Washington, thus invoking the benefits and protections of Washington's laws.” Dkt. 168, at 5.

         NAPA argues, in its instant Motion to Dismiss, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2), that the Court lacks personal jurisdiction over NAPA in this case. Dkt. 213. NAPA argues that it “lacks sufficient contacts with the State of Washington such that specific jurisdiction could attach.” Dkt. 213, at 2. NAPA continues, “Plaintiff has not alleged that general personal jurisdiction exists over NAPA, nor could Plaintiff colorably do so. NAPA is a Georgia limited liability company with its principal place of business in Atlanta, Georgia.” Dkt. 213, at 2 n.2.

         Plaintiff filed a response in opposition to NAPA's Motion to Dismiss. Dkt. 223. Plaintiff argues that NAPA's Motion to dismiss “seeks a ruling from the Court that it is not a product manufacturer or seller. This is akin to a motion for summary judgment.” Dkt. 223, at 2. Plaintiff continues, “NAPA seeks dismissal on the basis of its claim that it is only a ‘membership organization' and does not sell or distribute products. This is contradicted by the evidence that all Genuine Parts Company (GPC) parts flow through NAPA Distribution Centers to individual NAPA-branded stores.” Dkt. 223, at 2.

         NAPA filed a reply in support of its Motion to Dismiss. Dkt. 229.


         Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2) governs the dismissal of an action based on lack of personal jurisdiction. When a defendant moves to dismiss a complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction, the plaintiff bears the burden of demonstrating that jurisdiction is appropriate. Schwarzenegger v. Fred Martin Motor Co., 374 F.3d 797, 800 (9th Cir. 2004). Plaintiff cannot simply rest on the bare allegations of its complaint, but rather is obligated to come forward with facts, by affidavit or otherwise, supporting personal jurisdiction. Amba Marketing Systems, Inc. v. Jobar Int'l, Inc., 551 F.2d 784, 787 (9th Cir. 1977).

         Where, as here, the motion is based on written materials rather than an evidentiary hearing, the plaintiff need only make a prima facie showing of jurisdictional facts. Schwarzenegger, 374 F.3d at 800. A prima facie showing means that the plaintiff has produced admissible evidence, which if believed, is sufficient to establish the existence of personal jurisdiction. Ballard v. Savage, 65 F.3d 1495, 1498 (9th Cir. 1995). Conflicts between parties over statements contained in affidavits must be resolved in the plaintiff's favor. Id.; Rio Props., Inc. v. Rio Int'l Interlink, 284 F.3d 1007, 1019 (9th Cir. 2002). In resolving a Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2) motion, the court may consider evidence outside the pleadings, including affidavits and other materials submitted on the motion. See Daimler v. Bauman, 571 U.S. 117, 123 (2014) (noting that plaintiffs opposing the motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction submitted declarations and exhibits purporting to demonstrate defendant's contacts in the forum state); see also Lindora, LLC v. Isagenix Int'l, LLC, 198 F.Supp.3d 1127, 1135-36 (S.D. Cal. 2016).

         Where no applicable federal statute addresses the issue, a court's personal jurisdiction analysis begins with the “long-arm” statute of the state in which the court sits. Glencore Grain Rotterdam B.V. v. Shivnath Rai Harnarain Co.,284 F.3d 1114, 1123 (9th Cir. 2002). Washington's long-arm statute extends the court's personal jurisdiction to the broadest reach that the United States Constitution permits. Byron Nelson Co. v. Orchard Management Corp.,95 Wn.App. 462, 465 (1999). Because Washington's long-arm jurisdictional statute is coextensive with ...

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