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Commerce and Industry Insurance Co. v. Durofix, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

April 18, 2018

COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY INSURANCE COMPANY, as subrogee of Duane and Kelly Roberts, Plaintiff,
v.
DUROFIX, INC., Defendant. DUROFIX, INC., Defendant and Third-Party Plaintiff,
v.
E-ONE MOLI ENERGY CORP., Third-Party Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING SPECIALLY APPEARING THIRD-PARTY DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS FOR LACK OF PERSONAL JURISDICTION

          Leslie E. Kobayashi United States District Judge

         Specially Appearing Third-Party Defendant E-One Moli Energy Corp. (“E-One”) filed its Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction (“Motion”) on January 25, 2018. [Dkt. No. 115.] Defendant/Third-Party Plaintiff Durofix, Inc. (“Durofix”) filed its memorandum in opposition on February 12, 2018, and E-One filed its reply on February 16, 2018. [Dkt. nos. 122, 123.] This matter came on for hearing on March 5, 2018. On March 27, 2018, an entering order was issued ruling on the Motion. [Dkt. no. 132.] The instant Order supersedes that ruling. E-One's Motion is hereby granted for the reasons set forth below.

         BACKGROUND

         On March 11, 2016, Plaintiff Commerce and Industry Insurance Co. (“Commerce and Industry”), as subrogee of Duane and Kelly Roberts (“Insureds”), filed its Complaint. [Dkt. no. 1.] On January 12, 2018, Commerce and Industry filed its First Amended Complaint, which alleges a Durofix LED outlet light, Model No. RL435, caused a fire on March 14, 2014, which damaged the Insureds' home in Kihei, Hawai`i (“Subject Light” and, generally “RL435 LED Lights”). [Dkt. no. 109 at ¶¶ 8-12.] According to Durofix, the Subject Light “was designed, manufactured and/or sold by others, including” Defendants Regitar USA, Inc. (“Regitar”), Mobiletron Electronic Co., Ltd. (“Mobiletron”), and Mobiletron Electronics (Ningbo) Co., Ltd. (“Mobiletron Ningbo”). [Id. at ¶ 14.] The fire caused damage requiring Commerce and Industry to pay $1, 385, 329.84 to the Insureds. [Id. at ¶ 16.] As a result, Commerce and Industry has become subrogated to the Insureds' rights against the at-fault parties. [Id. at ¶ 17.]

         On January 17, 2017, the magistrate judge granted Durofix leave to file a third-party complaint. [Minutes, dkt. No. 47.] On January 20, 23, and 25, 2017, respectively, Durofix filed its Third-Party Complaint, First Amended Third-Party Complaint, and Second Amended Third-Party Complaint against E-One. [Dkt. nos. 54, 56, 59.] According to the Second Amended Third-Party Complaint, E-One “manufactured, supplied, distributed, and/or sold the battery” which caused the Subject Light to catch fire. [Dkt. no. 59 at ¶ 3.] Durofix demands contribution or indemnity from E-One for any judgment arising from Commerce and Industry's Complaint. [Id. at ¶¶ 6-7.] According to Durofix, the RL435 LED Lights were manufactured by Mobiletron, a Taiwan corporation. In March 2009, Mobiletron purchased 300, 000 lithium-ion batteries from E-One to manufacture the RL435 LED Lights. [Mem. in Opp., Decl. of Chad P. Love (“Love Decl.”), Exh. 5 (Decl. of Isaac Shih (“Shih Decl.”)) at ¶¶ 3-4.[1] Mobiletron distributed the RL435 LED Lights to Costco Wholesale (“Costco”) in Washington and Alabama. Costco distributed the RL435 LED Lights to its retail stores in Hawai`i and sold the RL435 LED Lights to Hawai`i consumers. [Id. at ¶ 24.]

         In the instant Motion, E-One argues the Second Amended Third-Party Complaint must be dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2). E-One states it is a corporation formed under the laws of Taiwan. Its corporate headquarters and manufacturing facilities are located exclusively in Taiwan. E-One contends it has no contacts with Hawai`i, and specifically states that, in Hawai`i, it has never: manufactured products; sold or distributed any products; had employees; been licensed to do business; had an agent for service of process; paid taxes; had a business address or telephone number; owned or leased any real property; had a bank account; or consented to, or waived, personal jurisdiction. [Motion, Decl. of Yin-Chang Hsiao (“Hsiao Decl.”) at ¶¶ 2-18.[2]

         STANDARD

         Rule 12(b)(2) allows a defendant to assert the defense of lack of personal jurisdiction by motion. This Court has stated:

A plaintiff has the burden of establishing personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant. See Love v. Associated Newspapers, Ltd., 611 F.3d 601, 608 (9th Cir. 2010); Schwarzenegger v. Fred Martin Motor Co., 374 F.3d 797, 800 (9th Cir. 2004). A plaintiff must establish personal jurisdiction over a defendant with respect to each claim. Action Embroidery Corp. v. Atl. Embroidery, Inc., 368 F.3d 1174, 1180 (9th Cir. 2004) (“Personal jurisdiction must exist for each claim asserted against a defendant.” (citing Data Disc, Inc. v. Sys. Tech. Assocs., Inc., 557 F.2d 1280, 1289 n.8 (9th Cir. 1977)).
When, as here, a district court acts on a motion to dismiss without holding an evidentiary hearing, a plaintiff need only make a prima facie showing of jurisdictional facts to withstand the motion to dismiss. Love, 611 F.3d at 608; Schwarzenegger, 374 F.3d at 800. Although a plaintiff may not simply rest on the bare allegations of the complaint, uncontroverted allegations in the complaint must be taken as true, and conflicts between parties over statements contained in affidavits or declarations must be resolved in the plaintiff's favor. See Love, 611 F.3d at 608; Schwarzenegger, 374 F.3d at 800.

Barranco v. 3D Sys. Corp., 6 F.Supp.3d 1068, 1076 (D. Hawai`i 2014) (citation omitted).

         DISCUSSION

         I. Preliminary Matters

         Before addressing the merits of the Motion, the Court addresses the filing of other relevant pleadings. On January 4, 2018, Commerce and Industry was granted leave to file an amended complaint adding Regitar, Mobiletron, and Mobiletron Ningbo as defendants, and on January 12, 2018, filed its First Amended Complaint. [Dkt. nos. 108, 109.] On February 2, 2018, a week after E-One had filed the instant Motion, Durofix filed its answer to the First Amended Complaint, and its Third-Party Complaint Against E-One Moli Energy Corp. (“2/2/18 Third-Party Complaint”). [Dkt. nos. 117, ...


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