Martinez et al v. Cincinnati Incorporated et al
ORDER granting 33 Motion. The claims against Martin Machine & Tool Inc. are dismissed without prejudice for lack of personal jurisdiction. Signed by Judge D. P. Marshall Jr. on 5/26/2017. (jak)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
QUINTON D MARTINEZ and
and MARTIN MACHINE & TOOL INC.
PLAZA INSURANCE COMPANY
Quinton and Rebecca Martinez have sued Cincinnati Incorporated and
Martin Machine & Tool, Inc. They say Cincinnati manufactured, and Martin
distributed, a defective and unreasonably dangerous press brake that injured
Quinton on the job at American Sports Medical Industries. Martin, which is
based in Tennessee and sold this used press brake to American there, moves
to dismiss for want of personal jurisdiction.
Martin has asked for an
evidentiary hearing, but the press of other business hasn't allowed this Court
to hold one. The question presented is whether, taking the affidavits and
other evidentiary materials in the light most favorable to Martinez,* and
*The Court will use the singular to refer to both plaintiffs.
resolving disputed facts in Martinez's favor, he has made a prima facie
showing on personal jurisdiction. Dakota Industries, Inc. v. Dakota Sportswear,
Inc., 946F.2d1384, 1387 (8th Cir.1991); Dairy Farmers ofAmerica, Inc. v. Bassett
& Walker International, Inc., 702 F.3d 472, 474-75 (8th Cir. 2012). Arkansas law
extends jurisdiction as far as the Due Process Clause allows. ARK. CODE ANN.
§ 16-4-lOl(B). Is it consistent with due process-fair and reasonable-to make
Martin defend this machine in Arkansas? Viasystems Inc. v. EBM-Papst St.
Georgen GmbH & Co., KG, 646 F.3d 589, 594 (8th Cir. 2011).
General Jurisdiction? Martinez argues that Martin's marketing, sales,
and service create continuous, systematic, and substantial contacts with
Arkansas; Martinez is saying that, in the Supreme Court's phrase, Martin is
essentially at home here. Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564
U.S. 915, 919 (2011).
The Court disagrees.
The company is rooted in
Tennessee. It doesn't advertise or attend trade shows in Arkansas. It doesn't
sell products in Arkansas. It doesn't solicit business in Arkansas. Martin has
a website, which of course reaches Arkansawyers and anyone else with an
internet connection. This website, though, is passive; it provides information
but no way to order things. That's insufficient under precedent. Lakin v.
Prudential Securities, Inc., 348 F.3d 704, 711 (8th Cir. 2003). In the last twentyseven years, Martin has made nine sales in Tennessee to people and
companies with an Arkansas address.
The sum of all this is not the
continuous and systematic presence that creates general jurisdiction in
Specific Jurisdiction? This issue is closer-particularly because of
some uncertainty around telephone calls and correspondence leading up to
the sale. Some things are clear. American (in Arkansas) reached out to
Martin (in Tennessee) about buying the used press brake. All material parts
of the transaction occurred in Tennessee. Delivery was not part of the deal.
No Martin employee brought the press brake to Arkansas or shipped this
machine to Arkansas; American had it shipped here. Compare, Papachristou
v. Turbines, Inc., 902 F.2d 685, 686 (8th Cir. 1990). And the money changed
hands in person in Tennessee.
In response to the distance created between Martin and Arkansas by all
those facts, Martinez emphasizes some pre-sale communications, which are
documented in a post-suit letter, and a statement by one of Martin's officers
in a post-suit affidavit. Interstate communications may show a non-resident
purposefully availing himself of a forum. Or they may not. It depends on
what's said and done in these communications. Compare Aaron Ferer & Sons
Co. v. Atlas Scrap Iron and Metal Co., 558 F.2d 450, 455 (8th Cir. 1977), with Wells
Dairy, Inc. v. Food Movers International, Inc., 607 F.3d 515, 520 (8th Cir. 2010).
Greg Davidson, Martin's president, said this: "American Sports Medical
[Industries] was advised several times in writing prior to the purchase of the
press (through the general manager and purchasing agent Jim Shaw) [:] That
this equipment was purchased: 'as is,' 'as shown' unless otherwise specified
in writing." Ng 38-1. The reasonable inference is that Martin corresponded
with American, an Arkansas-based company, about the potential sale. But,
without more, this kind of interstate communication is not enough to support
jurisdiction. E.g., Mountaire Feeds, Inc. v. Agro Implex, S.A., 677 F.2d 651, 656
(8th Cir. 1982). Next, the affidavit. Spydell Davidson, Martin's vice president,
testified that "We are a Tennessee corporation and only do business in
Arkansas if a potential buyer seeks our assistance." Ng 3-3. That's an
admission, Fed. R. Evid. 801(d)(2), but loose words go only so far. Consider
the context. This affidavit accompanied Martin's first responding papers,
filed prose, papers that included a challenge to personal jurisdiction. With a
lawyer's help, Martin has now filled the record with details about how and
where the company does its business. Martinez hasn't really challenged or
supplemented that showing, and Spydell Davidson's characterization can't
change the facts.
The Court has weighed all five material considerations. Viasystems, Inc.,
646 F.3d at 594; Aly v. Hanzada For Import & Export Company, Ltd., 2017 WL
1089542 at *3 (8th Cir. 6 May 2017).
It would be both unfair and
unreasonable, contrary to due process, to make Martin defend this case here
because its connections with Arkansas in the sale of this machine to American
were so thin.
Motion, NQ 33, granted. The claims against Martin Machine & Tool Inc.
are dismissed without prejudice for lack of personal jurisdiction.
D.P. Marshall Jr.
United States District Judge
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?