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Roblin v. Newmar Corp.

United States District Court, D. Oregon

October 23, 2019

ROBERT ROBLIN, Plaintiff,
v.
NEWMAR CORPORATION, Defendant.

          AMENDED OPINION AND ORDER

          Michael J. McShane United States District Judge

         The Court originally dismissed Third-Party Defendant Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. (“FCCC”) from this case after determining that the Court lacked personal jurisdiction over FCCC. Op. and Order 1, ECF No. 22. Now, Third-Party Plaintiff Newmar Corp. (“Newmar”) asserts an indemnification claim against FCCC and FCCC, once again, moves to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. However, unlike the Court's previous decision, new jurisdictional facts allow for the exercise of specific personal jurisdiction. Accordingly, the motion is DENIED.

         BACKGROUND

         Robert Roblin purchased a Recreational Vehicle (“RV”) manufactured by Newmar. The chassis was manufactured by FCCC. After experiencing mechanical and service-related issues with his RV, Mr. Roblin filed an action against Newmar and FCCC alleging violation of the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, 15 U.S.C. § 2301, Oregon Lemon Law Act, Or. Rev. Stat. § 646A.400 et. seq., and Oregon Consumer Warranty Act, Or. Rev. Stat. § 72.8100 et. seq.

         After the Court dismissed FCCC from the original complaint, Newmar filed a third-party complaint against, alleging new facts that arguably create personal jurisdiction over FCCC. Def.'s Newmar Unopposed Mot. for Leave to File Third-Party Compl. 2-3, ECF No. 44.

         DISCUSSION

         FCCC again moves the Court to dismiss it from the case for lack of personal jurisdiction. Where, as here, there is no applicable federal statute governing personal jurisdiction, a district court must apply the law of the state in which it sits. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(k)(1)(A); Panvasion Int'l, L.P. v. Toeppen, 141 F.3d 1316, 1320 (9th Cir. 1998). Oregon law authorizes personal jurisdiction to the full extent permitted by the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution. See Or. R. Civ. P. 4L. To comport with the requirements of due process, a court may only exercise personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant if that defendant has sufficient “minimum contacts” with the forum state, such that the exercise of personal jurisdiction would not “offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.” Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945) (citations and quotation marks omitted). A defendant's minimum contacts may be established through a showing of either general or specific jurisdiction. Schwarzenegger v. Fred Martin Motor Co., 374 F.3d 797, 801 (9th Cir. 2004). FCCC is not subject to general personal jurisdiction in Oregon. See Op. and Order 3-5.

         In the Ninth Circuit, courts apply a three-part test to determine whether the exercise of specific jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant is appropriate:

(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 forum, thereby invoking the benefits and protections of its laws; (2) the claim must be one which arises out of or relates to the defendant's forum-related activities; and (3) the exercise of jurisdiction must comport with fair play and substantial justice, i.e. it must be reasonable.

Schwarzenegger, 374 F.3d at 802 (citation and quotation marks omitted). A plaintiff bears the burden of establishing the first two elements of the test, after which the burden shifts to the defendant to “present a compelling case” that the exercise of jurisdiction would not be reasonable. Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewic, 471 U.S. 462, 477 (1985).

         I. Purposeful Availment

         The Court originally dismissed FCCC under the first prong of the jurisdictional test because FCCC had “no control over the service centers.” Op. and Order 8. As stated by Newmar, “the factual record was not developed and [Mr. Roblin] could point to little more than FCCC's warranty and that FCCC maintained a network of authorized service centers in Oregon.” Def.'s Newmar Unopposed Mot. for Leave to File Third-Party Compl. 3.

         However, the key difference now is the newly alleged facts surrounding FCCC's communication with and control of the service center as it relates to the repair of the RV. Id. at 2-3. FCCC directed where the RV was to be towed. It instructed the service center to expedite repairs. It instructed the service center to avoid communication with Mr. Roblin's “investigator because customer is possibly trying to build a case for Lemon Law.” It instructed the service center not to remove certain equipment. It instructed the service center to “not return the failed components to [Mr. Roblin] ‘under any circumstances.'” Id.

         FCCC believes that these additional facts do not alter the Court's original jurisdiction determination because they do not constitute purposeful availment in Oregon. Third-Party Def. FCCC's Reply to Dismiss Third-Party Compl. 2, ECF No. 72. As explained in Asahi v. Superior Court of Cal., Solano Cnty., “additional conduct” by a defendant is necessary for the exercise of jurisdiction. The new facts surrounding FCCC's control of the service center is additional conduct allowing for the exercise of jurisdiction. 480 U.S. 102, 112 (1987); see also McIntyreMachinery, Ltd. v. Nicastro, 564 U.S. 873, 883 (“[I]t is the defendant's actions, not his expectations, that empower a State's courts to subject ...


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