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Ajinomoto North America, Inc. v. Pine Valley, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Oregon

July 8, 2014

AJINOMOTO NORTH AMERICA, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
PINE VALLEY, INC., Defendant.

WILLIAM E. GAAR, Buckley Law, P.C., Lake Oswego, OR, Attorneys for Plaintiffs.

JEFF S. PITZER, Pitzer Law, Portland, OR, BRYAN S. GEON, Bryan Geon, Attorney at Law, Portland, OR, Attorneys for Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

ANNA J. BROWN, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Pine Valley, Inc.'s Motion (#7) to Dismiss or, Alternatively, to Transfer Venue.

For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS Defendant's Motion and DISMISSES this matter without prejudice for lack of personal jurisdiction.

BACKGROUND

On February 19, 2014, Plaintiff filed its Complaint asserting a claim against Defendant for breach of contract and, in the alternative, for unjust enrichment. Plaintiff alleges it sold certain frozen foods (the Product) to Defendant for resale to a third party, Trader Joe's, [1] pursuant to ten invoices dated between August 2013 and September 2013 totaling $405, 317.65. Plaintiff contends each invoice indicated the Product was being shipped from Plaintiff's location in Portland, Oregon, to various locations as directed by Defendant. Plaintiff asserts Defendant accepted and resold the Product, but Defendant failed to pay Plaintiff for the Product in a timely fashion.

Plaintiff contends in its Complaint that this Court has jurisdiction over this matter on the basis of diversity pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Plaintiff also contends this Court has personal jurisdiction over Defendant pursuant to Oregon Rule of Civil Procedure 4(A)(4) because Defendant has "engaged in substantial and not isolated activities with the State of Oregon." Compl. at ¶ 3. Plaintiff also contends venue is proper pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391 because Plaintiff's claims arise within this judicial district.

On April 4, 2014, Defendant filed its Motion (#7) to Dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and improper venue or, in the alternative, to transfer venue to the Central District of California.

STANDARDS

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). "The court may consider evidence presented in affidavits to assist it in its determination and may order discovery on the jurisdictional issues." Doe v. Unocal Corp., 248 F.3d 915, 922 (9th Cir. 2001) (citing Data Disc, Inc. v. Sys. Tech. Assoc., Inc., 557 F.2d 1280, 1285 (9th Cir. 1977)).

If the court makes a jurisdictional decision based on the pleadings and affidavits submitted by the parties and does not conduct an evidentiary hearing, "the plaintiff need make only a prima facie showing of jurisdictional facts to withstand the motion to dismiss." Id. (quoting Ballard v. Savage, 65 F.3d 1495, 1498 (9th Cir. 1995)). When determining whether the plaintiff has made a prima facie showing, the court must assume the truth of the uncontroverted allegations in the complaint. Ochoa v. J.B. Martin and Sons Farms, Inc., 287 F.3d 1182, 1187 (9th Cir. 2002). When a court rules on a defendant's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction without holding an evidentiary hearing, the court must resolve factual conflicts in the parties' affidavits in favor of the plaintiff. Harris Rutsky & Co. Ins. Serv., Inc. v. Bell & Clements LTD, 328 F.3d 1122, 1129 (9th Cir. 2003).

When there is not a federal statute that governs personal jurisdiction, the district court applies the law of the forum state. Boschetto v. Hansing, 539 F.3d 1011, 1015 (9th Cir. 2008) (citing Panavision Int'l L.P. v. Toeppen, 141 F.3d 1316, 1320 (9th Cir. 1998)). "Oregon's long-arm statute confers jurisdiction to the extent permitted by due process." Gray & Co. v. Firstenberg Mach. Co., 913 F.2d 758, 760 (9th Cir. 1990) (citing Oregon Rule of Civil Procedure 4L). Accordingly, "[f]or a court to exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant, that defendant must have at least minimum contacts with the relevant forum such that the exercise of jurisdiction does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice." Boschetto, 539 F.3d at 1015-16 (citations and quotations omitted).

A court's personal jurisdiction over a particular defendant is proper either as "general" or "specific" personal jurisdiction. A district court has general jurisdiction over the defendant if the plaintiff shows the defendant has "substantial" or "continuous and systematic" contacts with the forum state. Tuazon v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 433 F.3d 1163, 1171 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 415 (1984)). This standard is "fairly high" and requires the contacts to be the kind that approximate physical presence within the state. Gator.Com Corp. v. L.L. Bean, Inc., 341 F.3d 1072, 1076 (9th Cir. 2003)(internal citations omitted). Pertinent factors are whether the defendant "makes sales, solicits or engages in business, serves the state's markets, designates an agent for service of process, holds a license, has employees, or is incorporated [in the state]." Id. at 1076-77 (quotation omitted).

Even if the district court does not have general jurisdiction over the defendant, the court may have specific jurisdiction "if the controversy [was] sufficiently related to or arose out of the defendants' contacts with the forum." Omeluk v. Langsten Slip & Batbyggeri A/S, 52 F.3d 267, 270 (9th Cir. 1995). See also Beverage Mgmt. Sys., Inc. v. Ott, No. 3:12-CV-2126-SI, 2013 WL 1296083, at *3 (D. Or. 2013). The Ninth Circuit applies the following three-part test to determine whether a district court constitutionally may exercise specific jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant:

(1) The non-resident defendant must purposefully direct his activities or consummate some transaction with the forum or resident thereof; or perform some act by which he purposefully avails himself of the privilege of conducting activities in the ...

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