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Lamberton v. Koch

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

October 10, 2013

MICHAEL LAMBERTON and JOHN WISSING, Plaintiffs,
v.
HANS KOCH, et al., Defendants.

Jacob Wieselman, Portland, OR, Attorney for Plaintiffs.

Michael S. DeLeo, Bellevue, WA, Attorney for Defendants.

OPINION & ORDER

MARCO HERNANDEZ, District Judge.

Plaintiffs Michael Lamberton and John Wissing bring this action for breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, and misappropriation of trade secrets against individual Defendants Hans Koch, Ralph Koch, and Wayne Millage, and corporate Defendants SPR Packaging Resources, LLC; SPR Pac Investments, LLC; Allpak Container, Inc.; Allpak Container, LLC; Allpak Acquisitions, Inc.; Allpak Holdings, Inc.; and K&M Management Services. Defendants move to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and improper venue or, in the alternative, to transfer the case to the Western District of Washington. None of the individual Defendants reside in Oregon. Although one corporate Defendant sells some products in Oregon, the sales alone are not sufficient to establish general jurisdiction. Additionally, none of the events giving rise to the claims occurred in Oregon; thus there is no specific jurisdiction. Therefore, I grant Defendants' motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.

BACKGROUND

This case involves a contract dispute over the manufacture and sale of containers. Plaintiffs filed suit against Defendants when a joint venture between the parties ended. Decl. Michael Lamberton Opp'n Mot. Dismiss ¶¶ 28-29 ("Lamberton Decl."). In May 2011, Plaintiffs approached Defendants in Washington, seeking financial support to manufacture cardboard containers for storing and transporting liquid. Lamberton Decl. ¶¶ 6, 9; First Millage Decl. ¶¶ 12-13. The parties agreed that Defendants would provide the initial capital for the joint venture, Allpak would manufacture the liquid containers, and Plaintiffs would market and sell the containers. Lamberton Decl. ¶ 11; First Millage Decl. ¶¶ 13, 15. According to Defendants, the joint venture ended when it became clear that Plaintiffs were unable to meet its projected sales of the containers. First Millage Decl. ¶¶ 17-18.

Plaintiff Michael Lamberton is a resident of Oregon, and Plaintiff John Wissing a resident of Colorado. Lamberton Decl. ¶¶ 2-3. All of the individual Defendants, Hans Koch, Ralph Koch, and Wayne Millage, are residents of Washington. Compl. ¶¶ 6-8. In addition, the corporate Defendants Allpak Container, Inc.; Allpak Container, LLC; Allpak Acquisitions, Inc.; Allpak Holdings, Inc.; and K&M Management Services (collectively referred to as "Allpak") are incorporated in Washington. Decl. Wayne Millage Supp. Mot. Dismiss ("First Millage Decl.") Ex. 1. Allpak does not maintain offices within the state of Oregon, however Allpak Container, Inc. made sales in Oregon in 2012. First Millage Decl. ¶¶ 9-10. Defendants Specialty Packaging Resources, LLC and SPR Pac Investments, LLC were both incorporated in the state of Washington in July 2011. See Compl. ¶¶ 26-31; First Millage Decl. Ex. 1.

All meetings, negotiations, and agreements about the joint venture took place in Washington. First Millage Decl. ¶ 13. The proposed joint venture was conducted out of Plaintiff Lamberton's home in Oregon; and at Defendant Millage's request, its mailing address was a post office box in Oregon. Lamberton Decl. ¶¶ 4, 14, Ex. 7; Millage Decl. Supp. Mot. Dismiss Reply ("Second Millage Decl.") ¶ 4. With the exception of Allpak Container, Inc., neither Plaintiffs nor Defendants made any sales of containers within Oregon. First Millage Decl. ¶ 10.

STANDARDS

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2), a defendant may move for dismissal on the grounds that the court lacks personal jurisdiction. Plaintiff has the burden of showing personal jurisdiction. Boschetto v. Hansing , 539 F.3d 1011, 1015 (9th Cir. 2008). When the district court decides a motion without an evidentiary hearing, "the plaintiff need only make a prima facie showing of the jurisdictional facts" based on the plaintiff's pleadings and affidavits. Id . "Uncontroverted allegations in the plaintiff's complaint must be taken as true" and "[c]onflicts between the parties over statements contained in affidavits must be resolved in the plaintiff's favor." Id.

As a general rule, personal jurisdiction is proper if it is permitted by a long-arm statute and if the exercise of that jurisdiction does not violate federal due process. Pebble Beach Co. v. Caddy , 453 F.3d 1151, 1154 (9th Cir. 2006). Because Oregon's long-arm statute confers jurisdiction to the extent permitted by due process, Gray & Co. v. Firstenberg Machinery Co. , 913 F.2d 758, 760 (9th Cir. 1990), the court proceeds directly to the federal due process analysis. See Harris Rutsky & Co. Ins. Servs., Inc. v. Bell & Clements Ltd. , 328 F.3d 1122, 1129 (9th Cir. 2003) (when a state long-arm statute reaches as far as the Due Process Clause, the court need only analyze whether the exercise of jurisdiction complies with due process).

The forum state may exercise either general or specific jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant. Boschetto , 539 F.3d at 1016. If the contacts are insufficient for a court to invoke general jurisdiction, the court then applies the relevant test to determine whether specific jurisdiction exists. In re Tuli , 172 F.3d 707, 713 n.5 (9th Cir. 1999).

DISCUSSION

I. General ...


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