MetroPCS Wireless Inc v. AU Optronics Corporation et al

Filing 76

ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT MITSUI TAIWAN'S MOTION TO DISMISS THE METROPCS' FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT (SI, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 11/9/2011)

Download PDF
1 2 3 4 5 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 6 FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 7 8 IN RE: TFT-LCD (FLAT PANEL) ANTITRUST LITIGATION / No. M 07-1827 SI MDL No. 1827 10 This Order Relates To: No. C 11-0829 SI 11 METROPCS WIRELESS, INC., ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT MITSUI TAIWAN’S MOTION TO DISMISS THE METROPCS’ FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT United States District Court For the Northern District of California 9 12 13 Plaintiff, v. 14 AU OPTRONICS CORPORATION, et al., 15 Defendants. / 16 17 On October 28, 2011, the Court heard argument on the motion by defendant Mitsui & Co. 18 (Taiwan), Ltd. (“Mitsui Taiwan”) to dismiss the first amended complaint (“FAC”) of plaintiff MetroPCS 19 Wireless, Inc. Having considered the arguments of the parties and the papers submitted, and for good 20 cause appearing, the Court hereby DENIES defendant’s motion. 21 22 BACKGROUND 23 Plaintiff MetroPCS “provide[s] wireless mobile telecommunication services in selected major 24 metropolitan areas in the United States.” FAC at ¶20. It filed this action in the Northern District of 25 Texas on December 17, 2010, seeking to recover for a “long-running conspiracy . . . to fix, raise, 26 stabilize, and maintain prices for Liquid Crystal Display panels . . . .” See Compl. at ¶1. The action was 27 subsequently transferred to this Court as part of MDL No. 1827, and, on July 8, 2011, MetroPCS filed 28 its FAC. 1 The FAC alleges that MetroPCS was injured when it purchased “mobile wireless handsets” that 2 contained price-fixed LCD panels. FAC at ¶238-39. It includes antitrust claims under the Sherman Act, 3 California’s Cartwright Act, the Illinois Antitrust Act, and New York’s Donnelly Act, as well as a claim 4 under California’s Unfair Competition Law. FAC at ¶¶263-300. Among numerous other entities, the 5 FAC names as defendants two entities from the Mitsui corporate family: Mitsui Taiwan and Mitsui & 6 Co. (USA), Inc. (“Mitsui USA”). FAC at ¶¶35-36. The parent company, Mitsui & Co., Ltd. (“Mitsui”), 7 a Japanese company headquartered in Japan, is named as a co-conspirator but not a defendant. See FAC 8 at ¶37. The complaint alleges that the Mitsui entities participated in the conspiracy on behalf of Sanyo, 9 a manufacturer of LCD panels: United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 120. 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 Defendant Mitsui participated in multiple bilateral meetings during the Relevant Period, and agreed on prices and supply levels for LCD Products. In addition, Mitsui attended at least one bilateral meeting with Defendant Chunghwa during 2001, and multiple bilateral meetings with co-conspirator Samsung in the U.S. at which similar subjects were discussed. At that and other meetings, Mitsui acted as an agent of Sanyo Consumer and reached agreements with other competitors about prices for LCD Products sold in the United States and elsewhere. FAC at ¶120. On August 5, 2011, Mitsui Taiwan1 filed a motion to dismiss MetroPCS’s FAC. Mitsui Taiwan argues that it “is headquartered in and organized under the laws of Taiwan, has no physical presence in the United States, and lacks the ‘minimum contacts’ with the United States necessary to justify haling [it] before this Court.” Motion at 1. Thus, it seeks to be dismissed from this lawsuit for lack of personal jurisdiction. Alternatively, Mitsui Taiwan asserts that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over MetroPCS’s claims against it. 22 LEGAL STANDARD 23 24 25 26 27 28 Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) allows a party to challenge a federal court’s jurisdiction over the subject matter of the complaint. See Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 12(b)(1). The party invoking the jurisdiction of the federal court bears the burden of establishing that the court has the requisite subject matter jurisdiction to grant the relief requested. See Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of America, 1 Mitsui USA is not a party to Mitsui Taiwan’s motion. 2 1 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994) (citation omitted). A complaint will be dismissed if, looking at the complaint 2 as a whole, it appears to lack federal jurisdiction either “facially” or “factually.” Thornhill Pub‘g Co., 3 Inc. v. Gen. Tel. & Elecs. Corp., 594 F.2d 730, 733 (9th Cir. 1979). When the complaint is challenged 4 for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on its face, all material allegations in the complaint will be taken 5 as true and construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. NL Indus. v. Kaplan, 792 F.2d 896, 898 6 (9th Cir. 1986). In deciding a Rule 12(b)(1) motion which mounts a factual attack on jurisdiction, “no 7 presumption of truthfulness attaches to plaintiff's allegations, and the existence of disputed material facts 8 will not preclude the trial court from evaluating for itself the merits of jurisdictional claims. Moreover, 9 the plaintiff will have the burden of proof that jurisdiction does in fact exist.” Mortensen v. First Fed. United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 Savings & Loan Ass’n, 549 F.2d 884, 891 (3d Cir. 1977). 11 Motions to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction are heard under Federal Rule of Civil 12 Procedure 12(b)(2). In order for a court to exercise jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant, the 13 defendant must have the requisite minimum contacts with the forum such that the exercise of jurisdiction 14 “does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.” Int’l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 15 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945). There are two forms of personal jurisdiction: “specific” and “general.” “A 16 court may exercise specific jurisdiction where the cause of action arises out of or has a substantial 17 connection to the defendant’s contacts with the forum.” Glencore Grain Rotterdam B.V. v. Shivnath 18 Rai Harnarain Co., 284 F.3d 1114, 1123 (9th Cir. 2002) (citing Hanson v. Denckla, 357 U.S. 235, 251 19 (1958)). “Alternatively, a defendant whose contacts are substantial, continuous, and systematic is 20 subject to a court’s general jurisdiction even if the suit concerns matters not arising out of his contacts 21 with the forum.” Id. (citing Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 415 n.9 22 (1984)). 23 The plaintiff has the burden of establishing the district court’s personal jurisdiction over a 24 defendant. Doe I v. Unocal Corp., 248 F.3d 915, 922 (9th Cir. 2001) (per curiam). However, a district 25 court should not act on the defendant’s motion to dismiss without first holding an evidentiary hearing. 26 Harris Rutsky & Co. Ins. Servs. v. Bell & Clements Ltd., 328 F.3d 1122, 1128-29 (9th Cir. 2003). 27 Therefore, the plaintiff need only make a prima facie showing of jurisdiction to avoid the defendant’s 28 motion to dismiss. Id.; cf. Data Disc, Inc. v. Systems Tech. Assocs., Inc., 557 F.2d 1280, 1285 (9th Cir. 3 1 1977). Unless directly contravened, a plaintiff’s version of the facts is taken as true, and “conflicts 2 between the facts contained in the parties’ affidavits must be resolved in [plaintiff’s] favor for purposes 3 of deciding whether a prima facie case for personal jurisdiction exists.” Unocal, 248 F.3d at 922 4 (quoting AT & T v. Compagnie Bruxelles Lambert, 94 F.3d 586, 588 (9th Cir. 1996)); see also Bancroft 5 & Masters, Inc. v. Augusta Nat'l, Inc., 223 F.3d 1082, 1087 (9th Cir. 2000) (holding that “[b]ecause the 6 prima facie jurisdictional analysis requires us to accept the plaintiff’s allegations as true, we must adopt 7 [plaintiff’s] version of events for purposes of this appeal”). 8 9 DISCUSSION United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 11 As mentioned above, Mitsui Taiwan moves for dismissal on the grounds that this Court lacks both personal jurisdiction and subject matter jurisdiction. 12 13 I. Personal Jurisdiction 14 Mitsui Taiwan first argues that the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution forbids 15 it from being subjected to this Court’s jurisdiction. It asserts that it lacks the necessary “minimum 16 contacts” with the forum to be forced to defend itself in this Court. In this instance, the relevant forum 17 for this minimum contacts analysis is the United States. Go-Video, Inc. v. Akai Elec. Co., Ltd., 885 F.2d 18 1406, 1415-16 (9th Cir. 1989). 19 Mitsui Taiwan argues that this Court may not exercise either general or specific jurisdiction over 20 it. It argues that general jurisdiction is lacking because it has virtually no contacts with the United 21 States. According to an affidavit from Makoto Ichikawa, the General Manager of Mitsui Taiwan, Mitsui 22 Taiwan is headquartered in and organized under the laws of Taiwan, has no presence in the United 23 States, and has never sold or distributed TFT-LCD panels anywhere in the United States. Motion, Exh. 24 1 (“Ichikawa Decl.”) at ¶2-6; see also id. at ¶6 (stating that Mitsui Taiwan’s “sales of TFT-LCD panels 25 and products have been limited to Taiwan and few other countries outside North America”); id. at ¶9 26 (“[Mitsui Taiwan’s] only sales in the United States have been of products not related to TFT-LCD 27 products[,] occurred in a single year from 2002 to 2006 [and] constituted less than 1 percent of [Mitsui 28 Taiwan’s] income for that year . . . .”). 4 1 Similarly, Mitsui Taiwan argues that its lack of contacts is fatal to any claim of specific 2 jurisdiction. It argues that it has never “purposefully availed” itself of the privilege of conducting TFT- 3 LCD business in the United States, and that MetroPCS’s claims therefore cannot “arise out of” any U.S.- 4 related activities. See Ichikawa Decl., ¶7 (stating that Mitsui Taiwan has never “billed or invoiced,” 5 “negotiated,” “received revenue,” “shipped,” or otherwise “entered into any agreements for the sale or 6 distribution of TFT-LCD panels or products in the United States”); id. at ¶10 (“[Mitsui Taiwan] has 7 never had any meetings or discussions with any other defendant or alleged coconspirator in the United 8 States regarding any issue related to TFT-LCD panels or products.”).2 This Court previously considered Mitsui Taiwan’s argument in connection with its motion to 10 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 9 dismiss in the Electrograph matter. See Order Granting Mitsui Taiwan’s Motion for Judgment on the 11 Pleadings and for Dismissal, Master Docket No. 3395 (August 29, 2011). 12 Electrograph’s complaint alleged that Mitsui Taiwan participated in the conspiracy as an agent for 13 Sanyo.3 Its complaint did not, however, contain any allegations about the actions of the other Mitsui 14 entities. In opposition to Mitsui Taiwan’s motion to dismiss, Electrograph argued that personal 15 jurisdiction was proper because the Mitsui entities acted as a “single integrated enterprise.” The Court 16 rejected this argument because Electrograph’s complaint did not contain any allegations to support its 17 assertion that Mitsui operated as a single integrated enterprise. Id. at 6 (“The primary problem with 18 Electrograph’s theory is that no ‘single integrated entity’ allegations appear in its complaint.”). Further, 19 while Electrograph had attempted to introduce extrinsic evidence to support its single integrated entity 20 theory, the Court found those documents, most of which consisted of public filings or customer 21 presentations, inadequate to support its theory. Id. at 7 (“Other items Electrograph has provided are As in this case, 22 2 The Court GRANTS the unopposed requests for judicial notice filed by MetroPCS and Mitsui 23 Taiwan. 24 3 25 26 27 28 Many documents produced by Electrograph have also been produced by MetroPCS, and support the assertion that Mitsui Taiwan participated in the conspiracy in Taiwan. For example, one document, produced by Chunghwa Picture Tubes, documents a March 20, 2001, meeting with Mitsui Taiwan regarding sales of Sanyo products. The document contains information on the price, shipment status, and customers of variously sized Sanyo LCD panels. Declaration of Philip J. Iovieno in Support of MetroPCS’ Opposition (“Iovieno Decl.”), ¶11 & Exh. 10; see also id.., Exh. 33 (declaration of Chunghwa employee that “[b]etween 2001 and 2004, I and other Chunghwa employees met and exchanged information with employees of . . . Mitsui Busan (the Taiwanese agent for Sanyo Epson).”), Exh. 34 (memo documenting meeting between Hitachi and Mitsui Taiwan employee regarding pricing). 5 1 consistent with its single integrated entity theory, but do little to establish that Mitsui actually operated 2 in an integrated fashion.”). The Court suggested, however, that “evidence that the Mitsui entities 3 worked together” might be sufficient to create personal jurisdiction over Mitsui Taiwan. Id. at 8. Seizing on this last statement, MetroPCS has provided the Court with a number of documents 5 that it claims demonstrate the degree to which the Mitsui entities worked together to advance the 6 conspiracy. These documents support MetroPCS’s allegations that the Mitsui entities cooperated and 7 supported each other’s participation in the conspiracy. Numerous emails show that all three Mitsui 8 entities communicated with each other regarding the pricing of Sanyo LCD panels as well as the pricing 9 of their competitors. For example, several emails reflect exchanges of pricing information between 10 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 4 Mitsui Taiwan and Mitsui USA. See, e.g., Iovieno Decl., Exh. 11 (email from Mitsui Taiwan directing 11 Mitsui USA employee to “update your discussion with Dell . . . LG reduced the price to USD168 and 12 got half the allocation”), Exh. 12 (email from Mitsui USA stating that “we spoke with Samsung rep here 13 and he mentioned that they did not move on Dell aggressive requests for November pricing, as a matter 14 of fact he said that they actually RAISED pricing for one model . . . .”), Exh. 13 (email from Mitsui 15 USA stating that “this is very frustrating because we know for fact that other 12.1 XGA suppliers are 16 not meeting target and are in our same price range, and Dell has resorted to making claims to suppliers 17 that they Dell have in fact received lower pricing that what we are fairly sure was proposed from LG 18 or Samsung for AtlasII”), Exh. 14 (email from Mitsui USA stating that “I checked with LG Austin and 19 he confirmed LG price stays at $168 with the same payment terms”), Exh. 27 (email from Mitsui USA 20 stating that “[b]efore meeting Dell today, we heard from Samsung rep / Mike Hanson that LG has 21 actually met Sept 12.1 XGA price target of $158 but this price is for Dell only . . . . He said that 22 Samsung had gone to $160/pc and was considering lower”), Exh. 28 (email from Mitsui USA 23 documenting pricing conversation with LG Austin), Exh 30 (email from Mitsui USA containing price 24 information from LG). Significantly, the bulk of these communications specifically discuss Mitsui’s 25 pricing to Dell computer, an American company. Further, the emails suggest that while Mitsui USA 26 appears to have been responsible for price negotiations with Dell, Mitsui Taiwan communicated about 27 pricing and quantity with Quanta, a manufacturer of Dell products. 28 Based on the above, the Court finds that the exercise of specific jurisdiction over Mitsui Taiwan 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 is appropriate. Specific jurisdiction exists where three factors are met: (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. CollegeSource, Inc. v. AcademyOne, Inc., 653 F.3d 1066, 1076 (9th Cir. 2011). The documents MetroPCS has produced establish that Mitsui Taiwan “purposefully directed” 8 its conspiratorial activities towards the United States. The evidence described above establishes that 9 Mitsui Taiwan’s conspiratorial activities were expressly targeted at the United States. See also Iovieno 10 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 7 Decl., Exh. 36, 37 (emails discussing prices of LCD products in United States). Further, Mitsui Taiwan 11 knew that its price-fixing activities would cause harm to Dell and other American companies. This is 12 sufficient to satisfy the “purposeful direction” prong of the specific jurisdiction analysis. See 13 CollegeSource, 653 F.3d at 1076 (“[The ‘purposefully direct’ test] requires that the defendant allegedly 14 must have (1) committed an intentional act, (2) expressly aimed at the forum state, (3) causing harm that 15 the defendant knows is likely to be suffered in the forum state.” (internal quotation marks omitted)). 16 The other elements of the analysis are easily satisfied. MetroPCS’s injury – its contention that 17 it paid artificially high prices for LCD products – directly relates to Mitsui Taiwan’s conspiratorial 18 activities. Finally, the exercise of jurisdiction over Mitsui Taiwan would be reasonable. Typically, the 19 burden of establishing that jurisdiction would be unreasonable involves a seven-factor analysis: 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 (1) the extent of the defendants’ purposeful injection into the forum state’s affairs; (2) the burden on the defendant of defending in the forum; (3) the extent of the conflict with the sovereignty of the defendant’s state; (4) the forum state’s interest in adjudicating the dispute; (5) the most efficient judicial resolution of the controversy; (6) the importance of the forum to the plaintiff’s interest in convenient and effective relief; and (7) the existence of an alternative forum. Dole Food Co. v. Watts, 303 F.3d 1104, 1114 (9th Cir. 2002). Here, however, Mitsui Taiwan has not made any attempt to show that the exercise of jurisdiction would be unreasonable. See College Source, 653 F.3d at 1076 (“If [the plaintiff satisfies the first two prongs of the specific jurisdiction inquiry], the burden then shifts to [the defendant] to set forth a ‘compelling case’ that the exercise of jurisdiction would not be reasonable.”). In any event, given its close affiliation with Mitsui USA, which remains 7 1 a defendant regardless of the outcome of Mitsui Taiwan’s motion, the Court finds that the exercise of 2 jurisdiction over Mitsui Taiwan is reasonable. 3 4 II. Subject Matter Jurisdiction Mitsui Taiwan next moves to dismiss the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, 6 claiming that the Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvements Act of 1984 (“FTAIA”) bars MetroPCS’s 7 antitrust claims. The Court previously rejected this argument in its order on Mitsui Taiwan’s motion 8 to dismiss the Electrograph complaint. See Order Granting Mitsui Taiwan’s Motion for Judgment on 9 the Pleadings and for Dismissal, Master Docket No. 3395 (August 29, 2011). Mitsui Taiwan has not 10 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 5 convinced the Court to depart from this prior ruling. Its liability is not based upon its own foreign sales 11 of LCD products, but is based on the role it allegedly played in fixing prices of Sanyo LCD panels later 12 sold in the United States. Accordingly, its conduct falls within the domestic-injury exception to the 13 FTAIA. 14 15 16 17 CONCLUSION For the foregoing reasons and for good cause shown, the Court hereby DENIES Mitsui Taiwan’s motion to dismiss. Docket No. 40 in 11-0829; Docket No. 3218 in 07-1827. 18 19 IT IS SO ORDERED. 20 21 Dated: November 9, 2011 SUSAN ILLSTON United States District Judge 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 8

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?