Stewart et al v. Jayco, Inc.
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Ellen L. Hollander on 1/18/2017. (jnls, Deputy Clerk)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
JAMES STEWART, et al.
Civil Action No. ELH-16-3494
Plaintiffs James Stewart and Kelly Goodman brought suit against defendant Jayco, Inc.
(“Jayco”) (ECF 2), alleging, inter alia, violations of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, as
amended, 15 U.S.C. §2301 et seq., and breach of warranty. The suit arises out of “non-stop
problems” that plaintiffs claim to have had with their Jayco motorhome. Id. at 2-4. Plaintiffs
appended several exhibits to the Complaint. See ECF 26-1 through ECF 26-3.1
Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2), Jayco has filed a motion to dismiss for lack of
personal jurisdiction (ECF 16), supported by a memorandum of law. ECF 16-1 (collectively, the
“Motion”). Plaintiffs oppose the Motion (ECF 19, “Opposition”) and submitted several exhibits
with their Opposition. ECF 19-2 through ECF 19-8. Defendant replied (ECF 20, “Reply”) and
also submitted an exhibit. ECF 20-1. Then, plaintiffs filed a “Motion to Allow Plaintiff [sic] to
File Sur Response to Defendant’s Reply” (ECF 22, “Motion for Surreply”), which defendant
opposes. ECF 23. Plaintiffs subsequently docketed their proposed Surreply. ECF 24.2
Suit was filed in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County. Jayco removed the case to
this Court, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1332. ECF 1. Upon removal, the Complaint
docketed with this Court did not include the exhibits referenced in the Complaint. See ECF 2.
Therefore, by Order of December 21, 2016, I directed the parties to file the exhibits attached to
the state court complaint. ECF 25. Those exhibits were submitted on December 23, 2016.
The Motion for Surreply was filed without the proposed Surreply. ECF 22. Therefore,
(continued . . .)
The motions have been fully briefed and no hearing is necessary to resolve them. See
Local Rule 105.6. For these reasons that follow, I shall grant plaintiffs’ Motion for Surreply and
defendant’s Motion to Dismiss.
I. Factual Background
Plaintiffs are “residents” of Maryland. ECF 2 ¶ 1. Jayco is a “‘final stage manufacturer’
and distributor of recreational vehicles incorporated and headquartered in Indiana . . . .” ECF 161 at 1; see also ECF 20-1 (Declaration of Craig Newcomer, Consumer Affairs Manager for
“Jayco Motorhome Group”), ¶ 2. Plaintiffs allege that Jayco does business in Maryland “through
its three dealers in the State of Maryland.” Id. ¶ 2.3
On August 29, 2015, plaintiffs purchased a “2016 Jayco Seneca motor home” (the
“Motorhome”) from Camping World RV Super Center (“Camping World”), a dealer located in
Fountain, Colorado. ECF 2 ¶¶ 3, 5; see ECF 26-1 (Camping World Buyers Order and Invoice) at
1. According to plaintiffs, Camping World is an “authorized agent and dealer of the Defendant.”
See ECF 2 ¶ 3. Plaintiffs paid $153,081.90 for the Motorhome. ECF 2 ¶ 4; see ECF 26-1 at 1.
Plaintiffs claim that the Motorhome has “been plagued by non-stop problems arising
from defects in manufacturing of the vehicle.” Id. ¶ 5. According to plaintiffs, “the vehicle is
constantly and regularly having to be repaired with non-stop continuing problems.” Id. ¶ 8.
They also assert: “The Plaintiffs have requested that the Defendant address the issues, but to no
avail.” Id. ¶ 9.
(. . . continued)
my Chambers directed plaintiffs to file their proposed Surreply for review by opposing counsel
and the Court. Defendant filed its opposition to the Motion for Surreply on November 28, 2016
(ECF 23), before plaintiffs filed their proposed Surreply on November 29, 2016. ECF 24.
As discussed, infra, it appears that one Maryland dealer, which operates at three
locations, sells Jayco products.
In its Motion, Jayco contends that this Court lacks personal jurisdiction over Jayco. In
this regard, Jayco submitted the Declaration of Craig Newcomer, Consumer Affairs Manager of
“Jayco Motorhome Group.” See ECF 20-1. He avers that Jayco does not maintain an office in
Maryland; does not have any employees in Maryland; does not own any real estate in Maryland;
has no bank accounts in Maryland; and “does not directly advertise in Maryland.” ECF 20-1
¶¶ 4, 5, 7, 8, 9; see also ECF 16-1 at 1-2. Further, he states that although Jayco maintains a
website accessible to residents of Maryland, by which they can “review product and warranty
information and locate dealers, Jayco does not sell its vehicles on its website.” ECF 20-1 ¶ 10.
In the Motion, Jayco also asserts that it is not licensed to do business in Maryland and does not
“directly” pay any taxes in Maryland. ECF 16-1 at 1-2.4
According to Newcomer, Jayco has dealers throughout the United States and in 15 other
countries. ECF 20-1 ¶ 11. Newcomer avers that the “dealers are independently owned and
operated.” Id. Furthermore, Newcomer states, id.: “Neither Jayco nor any of Jayco's affiliates
owns any part of them. Jayco does not control, supervise, or direct the day-to-day operations of
the independently owned and operated dealers.”
Additionally, Newcomer avers that “Maryland sales represent only a small percentage of
Jayco’s total motor home sales.” Id. ¶ 12. Notably, he also asserts: “There is only one dealer in
Maryland (Chesaco)”, which has three locations in Maryland: Frederick, Joppa, and Gambrills.
Maryland Code (2014 Repl. Vol., 2016 Supp.), §§ 7-202 and 7-203 of the Corporations
and Associations Article, require foreign corporations either to register or to qualify with the
Department of Assessments and Taxation (“SDAT”), in order to do business in the State.
Although Newcomer’s Declaration does not refer to Jayco’s registration or qualification status, I
take judicial notice that Jayco does not appear either to have registered or qualified with SDAT.
See DEPARTMENT OF ASSESSMENTS AND TAXATION, CHARTER RECORD SEARCH, available at:
http://go.usa.gov/x9yDC; see also White v. Lexington Court Apartments, LLC, No. CV DKC 160427, 2016 WL 1558340, at *3 n.4 (D. Md. Apr. 18, 2016) (“The court may
take judicial notice of information found on SDAT's website.”).
Id. Moreover, Newcomer states that Chesaco sells products of various manufacturers, and “is
not an exclusive Jayco dealer.” Id.
Further, Newcomer points out that plaintiffs did not enter into a contract to purchase the
Motorhome in Maryland or with Jayco. Id. ¶ 13. He avers, id.: “None of Jayco's employees
communicated with Plaintiffs during Plaintiffs' negotiations leading up to their purchase of the
motor home.” And, Newcomer states that after the purchase “the motor home [was] serviced by
Camping World RV Sales in Hanover, Pennsylvania and Camping World RV Super Center in
Fountain, Colorado.” Id. ¶ 14. In addition, plaintiffs submitted their purchase agreement with
Camping World, which provides: “Seller and Purchaser are the sole parties to this Order . . . .”
ECF 26-1 at 2.
In their Opposition, plaintiffs point out that Jayco maintains a website with “a direct link
to the Defendants [sic].” ECF 19 ¶ 2. They also claim that there are at least three “Jayco RV
dealers operating within the State of Maryland.” Id. ¶ 3. And, according to plaintiffs, the
website directs customers to dealers operating within Maryland. Id. ¶¶ 2-3; see also ECF 19-2
and ECF 19-3 (print-outs of Jayco website pages). Thus, they maintain that Jayco is “transacting
business in Maryland and contracting to supply manufactured products in Maryland by selling
them to their dealers.” ECF 19 ¶ 12. In their view, it is irrelevant that plaintiffs did not buy the
Motorhome in Maryland. Id. ¶ 13.
The exhibits submitted by plaintiffs from the Jayco website (ECF 19-3) identify one
dealer, Chesaco RV. They also show that Chesaco has three locations in Maryland. ECF 19-4;
Additional facts are included in the Discussion.
II. Motion for Surreply
Local Rule 105.2(a) provides that a party is not permitted to file a surreply without
permission of the court. “Allowing a party to file a sur-reply is within the Court's discretion, see
Local Rule 105.2(a), but they are generally disfavored.” EEOC v. Freeman, 961 F. Supp. 2d
783, 801 (D. Md. 2013), aff'd in part, 778 F.3d 463 (4th Cir. 2015); see also, e.g., Chubb & Son
v. C & C Complete Servs., LLC, 919 F. Supp. 2d 666, 679 (D. Md. 2013). A surreply may be
permitted when the party opposing the underlying motion “would be unable to contest matters
presented to the court for the first time in the [movant’s] reply.” Clear Channel Outdoor, Inc. v.
Mayor & City Council of Baltimore, 22 F. Supp. 3d 519, 529 (D. Md. 2014) (quotations and
citations omitted). Conversely, a surreply is not permitted when the reply merely responds to an
issue raised in the opposition to the underlying motion. See Khoury v. Meserve, 268 F. Supp. 2d
600, 605–06 (D. Md. 2003). In that posture, the party had the opportunity to support its
arguments in the opposition to the underlying motion. Id. at 606.
In the Motion for Surreply, plaintiffs did not explain why a surreply is necessary or
appropriate. ECF 22. Plaintiffs only requested the Court allow them to “file a brief one page
response to the Defendant’s Reply . . . .” Id.
In its opposition to the Motion for Surreply, defendant argues that the Court should not
grant plaintiffs’ request. ECF 23. According to defendant, “Jayco’s Reply Brief did not raise
any new legal arguments; nor do Plaintiffs assert that they were unable to respond to Jayco’s
arguments in their Brief in Opposition.” Id. at 1. Defendant argues: “To permit Plaintiffs to file
a surreply under these circumstances would be prejudicial as it would leave Jayco without an
opportunity to respond.” Id. at 2.
In my view, plaintiff is entitled to file the Surreply because defendant introduced facts in
its Reply that it had not previously cited. For example, defendant argued for the first time that
the relevant repairs were performed in Pennsylvania. ECF 20 at 1, 3. And, defendant submitted
the “Declaration of Craig Newcomer.” See ECF 20-1. Although Newcomer’s averments are
largely consistent with the allegations in the Motion, the Declaration constitutes evidence, to
which plaintiffs have the right to respond. Therefore, I shall grant the Motion for Surreply.
III. Motion to Dismiss
A. Standard of Review
Defendant’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction is predicated on Fed. R.
Civ. P. 12(b)(2). “[A] Rule 12(b)(2) challenge raises an issue for the court to resolve, generally
as a preliminary matter.” Grayson v. Anderson, 816 F.3d 262, 267 (4th Cir. 2016). Under Rule
12(b)(2), the burden is “on the plaintiff ultimately to prove the existence of a ground for
jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence.” Combs v. Bakker, 886 F.2d 673, 676 (4th Cir.
1989); see Universal Leather, LLC v. Koro AR, S.A., 773 F.3d 553, 558 (4th Cir. 2014).
“If the existence of jurisdiction turns on disputed factual questions the court may resolve
the [jurisdictional] challenge on the basis of a separate evidentiary hearing, or may defer ruling
pending receipt at trial of evidence relevant to the jurisdictional question.” Combs, 886 F.2d at
A court may also, in its discretion, permit discovery as to the jurisdictional
issue. See Mylan Laboratories, Inc. v. Akzo, N.V., 2 F.3d 56, 64 (4th Cir. 1993). Plaintiffs note
that a plaintiff may develop facts supporting jurisdiction through discovery. ECF 19 ¶ 14.
However, they have not asked the Court for any opportunity to conduct discovery. Id. In any
event, neither discovery nor an evidentiary hearing is required to resolve a motion under Rule
12(b)(2). See generally 5B C. WRIGHT & A. MILLER, FEDERAL PRACTICE & PROCEDURE § 1351
at 274–313 (3d ed. 2004, 2011 Supp.).
“The plaintiff's burden in establishing jurisdiction varies according to the posture of a
case and the evidence that has been presented to the court.” Grayson, 816 F.3d at 268. The
district court may address the question of personal jurisdiction as a preliminary matter, ruling
solely on the basis of motion papers, supporting legal memoranda, affidavits, and the allegations
in the complaint. Consulting Eng'rs Corp. v. Geometric Ltd., 561 F.3d 273, 276 (4th Cir. 2009);
see Grayson, 816 F.3d at 268. In that circumstance, the “plaintiff need only make ‘a prima facie
showing of personal jurisdiction to survive the jurisdictional challenge.’” Grayson, 816 F.3d at
268 (quoting Combs, 886 F.2d at 676).
“When determining whether a plaintiff has made the requisite prima facie showing, the
court must take the allegations and available evidence relating to personal jurisdiction in the light
most favorable to the plaintiff.” Grayson, 816 F.3d at 268; see Carefirst of Maryland, Inc. v.
Carefirst Pregnancy Ctrs., Inc., 334 F.3d 390, 396 (4th Cir. 2003). But, “district courts are not
required . . . to look solely to the plaintiff's proof in drawing those inferences.” Mylan
Laboratories, 2 F.3d at 62. And, “‘[a] threshold prima facie finding that personal jurisdiction is
proper does not finally settle the issue; plaintiff must eventually prove the existence
of personal jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence, either at trial or at a pretrial
evidentiary hearing.’” New Wellington Fin. Corp. v. Flagship Resort Dev. Corp., 416 F.3d 290,
294 n. 5 (4th Cir. 2005) (emphasis in original) (citation omitted).
Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(k)(1)(A) authorizes a federal district court to exercise personal
jurisdiction over a defendant in accordance with the law of the state in which the district court is
located. Carefirst of Maryland, 334 F.3d at 396. Therefore, in Maryland, “to assert personal
jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant, two conditions must be satisfied: (1) the exercise of
jurisdiction must be authorized under the state's long-arm statute; and (2) the exercise of
Amendment.” Id.; accord Carbone v. Deutsche Bank Nat'l Trust Co., No. CV RDB-15-1963,
2016 WL 4158354, at *5 (D. Md. Aug. 5, 2016).
Maryland's long-arm statute is codified at Md. Code (2013 Repl. Vol., 2016 Supp.), § 6–
103(b) of the Courts & Judicial Proceedings Article. It authorizes “personal jurisdiction over a
person, who directly or by an agent,” id.:
(1) Transacts any business or performs any character of work or service in the
(2) Contracts to supply goods, food, services, or manufactured products in the
(3) Causes tortious injury in the State by an act or omission in the State;
(4) Causes tortious injury in the State or outside of the State by an act or omission
outside the State if he regularly does or solicits business, engages in any other
persistent course of conduct in the State or derives substantial revenue from
goods, food, services, or manufactured products used or consumed in the
(5) Has an interest in, uses, or possesses real property in the State; or
(6) Contracts to insure or act as surety for, or on, any person, property, risk,
contract, obligation, or agreement located, executed, or to be performed within
the State at the time the contract is made, unless the parties otherwise provide
When interpreting the reach of Maryland's long-arm statute, a federal district court is
bound by the interpretations of the Maryland Court of Appeals. See Carbone, 2016 WL
4158354 at *5; Snyder v. Hampton Indus., Inc., 521 F. Supp. 130, 135-36 (D. Md.
1981), aff'd, 758 F.2d 649 (4th Cir. 1985); see also Mylan Laboratories, 2 F.3d at 61. The
Maryland Court of Appeals has “consistently held that the reach of the long arm statute is
coextensive with the limits of personal jurisdiction delineated under the due process clause of the
Federal Constitution” and that the “statutory inquiry merges with [the] constitutional
examination.” Beyond Systems, Inc. v. Realtime Gaming Holding Co., 388 Md. 1, 22, 878 A.2d
567, 580 (2005) (citing Mohamed v. Michael, 279 Md. 653, 657, 370 A.2d 551, 553 (1977)); see
also Stover v. O'Connell Assocs., Inc., 84 F.3d 132, 135–36 (4th Cir. 1996) (stating that “the two
inquiries essentially become one”); accord ALS Scan, Inc. v. Digital Service Consultants,
Inc., 293 F.3d 707, 710 (4th Cir. 2002).
To be sure, “the reach of the [long-arm] statute is as far as due process
permits . . . .” Mackey v. Compass Marketing, Inc., 391 Md. 117, 140 n. 5, 892 A.2d 479, 492 n.
5 (2006). However, the Maryland Court of Appeals has clarified that the statutory analysis
remains a requirement of the personal jurisdiction analysis. In Mackey, the Maryland Court of
Appeals said, 391 Md. at 141 n. 6, 892 A.2d at 493 n. 6 (citations omitted):
We stated recently in Beyond v. Realtime . . . that “the purview of the long arm
statute is coextensive with the limits of personal jurisdiction set by the due
process clause of the Federal Constitution.” We did not, of course, mean by this
that it is now permissible to simply dispense with analysis under the long-arm
statute . . . . Rather . . . we interpret the long-arm statute to the limits permitted by
the Due Process Clause when we can do so consistently with the canons of
Since Mackey, the Maryland Court of Appeals has repeatedly affirmed that “determining
whether a Maryland court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a foreign defendant requires
a two-step analysis.” Bond v. Messerman, 391 Md. 706, 721, 895 A.2d 990, 999 (2006); see
also CSR, Ltd. v. Taylor, 411 Md. 457, 472, 983 A.2d 492, 501 (2009) (stating that
personal jurisdiction analysis “entails dual considerations”). First, the court considers “whether
the requirements of Maryland's long-arm statute are satisfied.” CSR, 411 Md. at 472, 983 A.2d
at 501 (citing Bond, 391 Md. at 721, 895 A.2d at 999; Mackey, 391 Md. at 129, 892 A.2d at
486; Beyond, 388 Md. at 14, 878 A.2d at 576). Second, it considers “whether the exercise of
personal jurisdiction comports with the requirements imposed by the Due Process Clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment.” CSR, 411 Md. at 473, 983 A.2d at 501 (citing Bond, 391 Md. at 721,
895 A.2d at 999; Beyond, 388 Md. at 15, 878 A.2d at 575). Nevertheless, the Maryland Court of
Appeals has, in some situations, declined to consider the first step where the analysis of the
second step demonstrates conclusively that personal jurisdiction over the defendant would
violate due process. See, e.g., Bond, 391 Md. at 722, 895 A.2d at 1000.
Here, for the reasons stated below, I need not consider the statutory question under
Maryland’s long arm statute. This is because the Court’s exercise of personal jurisdiction over
defendant flies in the face of due process.
The United States Supreme Court has long held that personal jurisdiction over a
nonresident defendant is constitutionally permissible so long as the defendant has “minimum
contacts with [the forum state] such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend ‘traditional
notions of fair play and substantial justice.’” International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S.
310, 316 (1945). Courts have separated this test into individual “prongs,” first ascertaining
whether the threshold of “minimum contacts” is met, and then considering whether the exercise
of jurisdiction on the basis of those contacts is “constitutionally reasonable.” ALS Scan, 293 F.3d
Due process jurisprudence recognizes “two types of personal jurisdiction: general and
specific.” CFA Inst. v. Inst. of Chartered Fin. Analysts of India, 551 F.3d 285, 292 n. 15 (4th Cir.
2009). The Fourth Circuit has explained:
General personal jurisdiction, on the one hand, requires “continuous and
systematic” contacts with the forum state, such that a defendant may be sued in
that state for any reason, regardless of where the relevant conduct occurred.
Specific personal jurisdiction, on the other hand, requires only that the relevant
conduct have such a connection with the forum state that it is fair for the
defendant to defend itself in that state.
Id. (citing, inter alia, Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 414-15,
(1984)) (internal citations omitted).
A court may exercise general jurisdiction over foreign corporations to hear “any and all
claims” against the corporations “when their affiliations with the State are so ‘continuous and
systematic’ as to render them essentially at home in the forum State.” Goodyear Dunlop Tires
Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 919 (2011) (citations omitted). In contrast, specific
jurisdiction “depends on an ‘affiliatio[n] between the forum and the underlying
controversy. . . .’” Id. (citation omitted) (alteration in Goodyear).
I consider, in turn, whether due process permits the exercise of general or specific
jurisdiction over defendant.
As noted, general jurisdiction allows a plaintiff to bring “any and all claims” against a
party in that jurisdiction. Goodyear, 564 U.S. at 919. “[T]he threshold level of minimum
contacts sufficient to confer general jurisdiction is significantly higher than for specific
jurisdiction.” ALS Scan, 293 F.3d at 715 (internal quotation marks omitted); accord Saudi v.
Northrop Grumman Corp., 427 F.3d 271, 276 (4th Cir. 2005). The Fourth Circuit has long held
that “broad constructions of general jurisdiction” are “generally disfavored.” Nichols v. G.D.
Searle & Co., 991 F.2d 1195, 1200 (4th Cir. 1993).
According to the Supreme Court, the “paradigm forum for the exercise of general
jurisdiction is the individual’s domicile; for a corporation, it is an equivalent place . . . .”
Goodyear, 564 U.S. at 924. In Daimler AG v. Bauman, ___ U.S. ___ , 134 S.Ct. 746, 760
(2014), the Supreme Court made clear that “only a limited set of affiliations with a forum will
render a defendant amenable to all-purpose jurisdiction there.” In particular, it noted that “the
inquiry under Goodyear is not whether a foreign corporation's in-forum contacts can be said to
be in some sense ‘continuous and systematic,’ it is whether that corporation's ‘affiliations with
the State are so continuous and systematic as to render [it] essentially at home in the forum
State.’” Id. at 761 (quoting Goodyear, 564 U.S. at 919) (alteration in original) (some quotation
In Daimler, the plaintiffs sought to exercise general jurisdiction over defendant
DaimlerChrysler Aktiengesellschaft (“Daimler”) in California to litigate a claim arising in
Argentina, on the basis of Daimler’s relationship to Mercedes-Benz USA (“MBUSA”). 134
S.Ct. at 750-51.5 According to the Supreme Court, MBUSA was the “largest supplier of luxury
vehicles to the California market.” Id. at 752. The Court noted: “In particular, over 10% of all
sales of new vehicles in the United States take place in California, and MBUSA's California
sales account for 2.4% of Daimler's worldwide sales.” Id. The Court determined that, even
assuming that MBUSA’s contacts were imputable to Daimler, there was no general jurisdiction
over Daimler in California. Id. at 760. In reaching that conclusion, the Court observed that
MBUSA was an “indirect subsidiary” of Daimler. Daimler, 134 S.Ct. at 752.
Daimler was neither incorporated in California nor did it maintain its principal place of business
in California. Id. at 761. The Court stated, id. at 761-62:
If Daimler's California activities sufficed to allow adjudication of this Argentinarooted case in California, the same global reach would presumably be available in
every other State in which MBUSA's sales are sizable. Such exorbitant exercises
of all-purpose jurisdiction would scarcely permit out-of-state defendants “to
structure their primary conduct with some minimum assurance as to where that
conduct will and will not render them liable to suit.” Burger King Corp., 471
U.S., at 472, 105 S.Ct. 2174 (internal quotation marks omitted).
Thus, the general jurisdiction analysis does not focus “solely on the magnitude of the
defendant’s in-state contacts.” Daimler, 134 S. Ct. 746, 762 n.20 (internal quotations and
The Daimler Court reasoned: “General jurisdiction instead calls for an
appraisal of a corporation's activities in their entirety, nationwide and worldwide. A corporation
that operates in many places can scarcely be deemed at home in all of them. Otherwise, ‘at
home’ would be synonymous with ‘doing business’ tests framed before specific jurisdiction
evolved in the United States.” Id. (citation omitted). Thus, it must be an “exceptional case” for
general jurisdiction to be exerted over a corporation in a forum where that corporation is not
incorporated and does not maintain its principal place of business. Daimler, 134 S.Ct. at 760
The Daimler Court cited Perkins v. Benguet Consol. Mining Co., 342 U.S. 437, 447-48
(1952), as an “exceptional case,” where it was appropriate to assert general jurisdiction over a
company that was not incorporated in a state and did not maintain its principal place of business
there. See Daimler, 134 S.Ct. at 756 n.8. In Perkins, the defendant was a Filipino mining
company that had halted its operations during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines in
World War II. 342 U.S. at 447. During that time, the president of the mining company returned
to his home in Ohio, where he “did many things on behalf of the company.” Id. at 448. Those
activities included, inter alia, keeping office files of the company; carrying on correspondence
relating to the company and its employees; drawing and distributing salary checks; maintaining
two active bank accounts with company funds; and holding directors’ meetings. Id. The Court
held that general jurisdiction was proper over the mining company in Ohio as to a cause of action
that originated in the Philippines, as the president had “carried on in Ohio a continuous and
systematic supervision of the necessarily limited wartime activities of the company. He there
discharged his duties as president and general manager, both during the occupation of the
company's properties by the Japanese and immediately thereafter.” Id.
Pitts v. Ford Motor Co., 127 F. Supp. 2d 676 (S.D. Miss. 2015), is also informative. In
Pitts, plaintiffs, who were residents of Texas, asserted products liability claims against Ford in
Mississippi. Id. at 680. According to plaintiffs, Ford “ is qualified and registered to do business
in the State of Mississippi, licensed to sell or distribute new automobiles in Mississippi, contracts
with Mississippi based dealers, provides operational guidelines to Mississippi dealers, has
purchased a Mississippi dealership, advertises in Mississippi, and has an agent for service of
process in Mississippi.” Id. at 683. Defendant stated, inter alia, that it “‘does not sell new
vehicles directly to the public’” but rather “sells its vehicles to ‘independently-owned dealerships
. . . .’” Id. at 680. Although the court assumed the truth of plaintiffs’ facts, it concluded that
Ford was not subject to general jurisdiction in Mississippi.
Id. at 683.
In reaching its
conclusion, the Pitts Court noted that Ford is not incorporated in Mississippi and does not
maintain its principal place of business in Mississippi. Id. According to the court, Ford was “at
most ‘doing business’ in Mississippi”, which is not sufficient to determine that Ford is
essentially at home in the state. Id.
Many district courts around the country have reached the conclusion that no general
jurisdiction exists over a defendant that is a national manufacturer where the defendant’s primary
contact with the state is the sale of products to in-state dealers. See, e.g., Cahen v. Toyota Motor
Corp., 147 F. Supp. 3d 955, 964 (N.D. Cal. 2015) (finding no general jurisdiction over Ford
Motor Company in California despite the fact that 10.5% of new vehicles sold in the state were
manufactured by Ford and that Ford maintained a research center in the State); Estate of Rosario
v. Falken Tire Corp., 109 F. Supp. 3d 485, 494 (D.P.R. 2015) (finding no general jurisdiction
over a foreign tire manufacturer that sold tires in Puerto Rico through various dealers); High
Plains Const., Inc. v. Gay, 831 F. Supp. 2d 1089, 1096 (S.D. Iowa 2011) (finding that dealer
could not assert general jurisdiction over a wind turbine manufacturer where the manufacturer’s
contacts were limited to selling to the dealer).
Defendant argues that it is not subject to general jurisdiction in Maryland because it is not
at home in the State. ECF 20 at 5. According to defendant, its “connections to Maryland are not
‘continuous and systematic.’” Id. Citing Newcomer’s Declaration (ECF 20-1), defendant points
out: “Jayco is headquartered and maintains its principal place of business in Indiana, does not
maintain an office in Maryland, does not own any real estate in Maryland, and [does] not have
any employees in Maryland.” ECF 20 at 5; see ECF 20-1 ¶¶ 4, 5, 8. Jayco also contends that it
does not “directly advertise in Maryland to solicit customers in Maryland.” ECF 20 at 5; see
ECF 20-1 at ¶ 9. Moreover, defendant sells its products to a single Maryland dealer that has
three locations, but is not exclusively a Jayco dealer. ECF 16-1 at 2. Defendant claims that
“such contacts fall far short of the ‘exceptional case’ required by Daimler,” 134 S.Ct. at 762 n.
19. ECF 20 at 5.
In their Opposition, plaintiffs did not specify whether they rely on general jurisdiction,
specific jurisdiction, or both. See ECF 19. But, they seem to rely on the grounds of “minimum
contacts.” See id. at 3.
Plaintiffs point to several contacts between Jayco and Maryland. In particular, plaintiffs
contend that Jayco sells its products to a Maryland dealer (ECF 19 ¶ 8) and observes that Jayco
maintains a website accessible in Maryland, which directs customers to those dealers in
Maryland. Id. ¶¶ 2-6; see ECF 19-2 through ECF 19-8 (print-out copies of the Jayco and
Chesaco websites). According to plaintiffs, “the dealer's own website makes it clear that there
are numerous new Jayco products available for sale at the Chesaco RV dealers/sellers in the state
of Maryland.” ECF 19 at 2; see ECF 19-7 (printout of Chesaco website). They assert: “[I]t
seems highly inappropriate and suspect for the Defendant's [sic] to assert that they do not
regularly do business in the state of Maryland, when clearly they place new vehicles at . . . three
(3) locations of its solely named dealer.” ECF 19 at 2. Plaintiffs conclude, id. at 3: “‘[T]he
Plaintiffs have already provided more than enough evidence that the Defendants [sic] have
‘sufficient minimum contacts’ for Maryland to exert personal jurisdiction over the Defendants
and that they have clearly taken ‘some acts by which they purposefully availed themselves of the
privilege of conducting activities within the forum state.’” (Citing Hanson v. Denckla, 357 U.S.
In my view, plaintiffs have not made a prima facie showing to establish general
jurisdiction over defendant in Maryland.
Although plaintiffs point to some contacts that
defendant maintains with Maryland, those contacts are not so continuous and systematic as to
“render [defendant] essentially at home in the forum State.” Goodyear, 564 U.S. at 919.
Notably, Jayco is not incorporated in Maryland; it is not registered or qualified to do
business in Maryland; it has no employees in Maryland; and it does not maintain an office here.
And, as Newcomer averred, “Jayco products are sold by dealers throughout the United States and
in 15 other countries.” ECF 20-1 ¶ 11.
To be sure, Jayco sells its products to a Maryland dealer, Chesaco, and Chesaco has three
locations in Maryland. But, Chesaco also sells other brands of recreational vehicles. In addition,
“Maryland sales represent only a small percentage of Jayco's total motor home sales.” ECF 20-1
¶ 12. Moreover, through its website, defendant passively directs customers in Maryland to
purchase its products from Chesaco. But, Chesaco is independently owned and operated, and
defendant does not “control, supervise, or direct the day-to-day operations” of Chesaco. ECF
20-1 ¶ 11.
Newcomer’s unrefuted Declaration presents factual information sufficient to
conclude that Jayco operates in many places, and that Maryland is not a hub or focus of activity
As the Supreme Court recognized in Daimler, a corporation cannot be considered “at
home” when it “operates in many places” because it “can scarcely be deemed at home in all of
them.” 134 S. Ct. 746, 762 n.20. Jayco’s contacts with Maryland are not “so constant and
pervasive as to render [Jayco] essentially at home in the forum State.” Daimler AG, 134 S.Ct. at
751 (internal quotations and citation omitted). To be sure, the “[f]low of a manufacturer's
products into the forum . . . may bolster an affiliation germane to specific jurisdiction. . . . But
ties serving to bolster the exercise of specific jurisdiction do not warrant a determination that,
based on those ties, the forum has general jurisdiction over a defendant.” Goodyear, 564 U.S. at
927. I conclude that this Court lacks general jurisdiction over Jayco.
Because Maryland lacks general personal jurisdiction over defendant, I next consider
whether plaintiffs have made a prima facie showing of specific jurisdiction.
To determine whether there is specific jurisdiction over a defendant, courts consider: “(1)
the extent to which the defendant purposefully availed itself of the privilege of conducting
activities in the State; (2) whether the plaintiffs' claims arise out of those activities directed at the
State; and (3) whether the exercise of personal jurisdiction would be constitutionally
reasonable.” Consulting Eng'rs, 561 F.3d at 278 (citing ALS Scan, 293 F.3d at 715); accord
Carefirst of Maryland, 334 F.3d at 397.
The Supreme Court expounded on the minimum contacts requirement in Burger King,
supra, 471 U.S. 462. There, a franchisor sued a franchisee in Florida, alleging, inter alia, breach
of franchise obligations.
The defendants claimed the court lacked personal
jurisdiction as to them. Id. at 469. In the context of specific jurisdiction, the Court explained
that minimum contacts involve “significant activities within a State” or “‘continuing obligations’
between [the defendant] and residents of the forum.” Id. at 475-76 (citations omitted). Notably,
the “benchmark” is not the “foreseeability of causing injury in another State . . . .” Id. at 474
(emphasis in Burger King). Rather, it is “‘foreseeability . . . that the defendant’s conduct and
connection with the forum State are such that he should reasonably anticipate being haled into
court there.’” Id. (quoting World-Wide Volkswagen Corp v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 295
The Burger King Court stated unequivocally that entering into a contract with a citizen of
the forum state “alone” cannot “automatically establish minimum contacts” over a nonresident
defendant. Burger King, 471 U.S. at 478 (emphasis in original). Conversely, the Court made
clear that “even a single act can support jurisdiction,” so long as that act “creates a ‘substantial
connection’ with the forum.” Id. at 475 n.18 (citation omitted). The Court said: “Although
territorial presence frequently will enhance a potential defendant’s affiliation with a State and
reinforce the reasonable foreseeability of suit there,” jurisdiction cannot be “avoided merely
because the defendant did not physically enter the forum State.”
Id. at 476 (emphasis in
The Burger King Court also observed that “it is an inescapable fact of modern
commercial life that a substantial amount of business is transacted solely by mail and wire
communications across state lines, thus obviating the need for physical presence within a State in
which business is conducted.” Id. 15
Nevertheless, the Court said, id. at 474:
“[T]he constitutional touchstone remains
whether the defendant purposefully established ‘minimum contacts’ in the forum State.” “Th[e]
‘purposeful availment’ requirement ensures that a defendant will not be haled into a jurisdiction
solely as a result of ‘random,’ ‘fortuitous,’ or ‘attenuated’ contacts, or of the ‘unilateral activity
of another party or a third person.’” Id. at 475 (internal citations omitted); see also Unspam
Techs., Inc. v. Chernuk, 716 F.3d 322, 328 (4th Cir. 2013); ESAB Grp., Inc. v. Zurich Ins. PLC,
685 F.3d 376, 392 (4th Cir. 2012).
The first element, purposeful availment, “articulates the minimum contacts requirement
of constitutional due process that the defendant purposefully avail himself of the privilege of
conducting business under the laws of the forum state.” Consulting Eng'rs, 561 F.3d at 278. A
determination that the defendant has established minimum contacts with the forum state amounts
to a conclusion that “‘it is presumptively not unreasonable to require him to submit to the
burdens of litigation in that forum as well.’” Id. (quoting Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471
U.S. 462, 476 (1985)).
In Consulting Engineers, 561 F.3d at 278, the Fourth Circuit enumerated several
“nonexclusive factors,” applicable in the “business context,” which may help to “resolve whether
a defendant has engaged in such purposeful availment”:
• whether the defendant maintains offices or agents in the forum state;
• whether the defendant owns property in the forum state;
• whether the defendant reached into the forum state to solicit or initiate
• whether the defendant deliberately engaged in significant or long-term
business activities in the forum state;
• whether the parties contractually agreed that the law of the forum state would
• whether the defendant made in-person contact with the resident of the forum
in the forum state regarding the business relationship;
• the nature, quality and extent of the parties’ communications about the
business being transacted; and
• whether the performance of contractual duties was to occur within the forum.
(Internal citations omitted).
The Court cautioned, however, that these factors are “not
susceptible of mechanical application.” Id.
Under the second prong of the test for specific jurisdiction, a defendant's contacts with
the forum state must form the basis of the suit. Consulting Eng'rs, 561 F.3d at 278–79. As the
Supreme Court reiterated in Goodyear, a corporation’s “‘continuous activity of some sorts within
a state . . . is not enough to support the demand that the corporation be amenable to suits
unrelated to that activity.’” 564 U.S. at 927 (quoting International Shoe, 326 U.S. at 318). And,
in Helicopteros, supra, 466 U.S. at 415-16, the Supreme Court determined that, because the
parties had conceded that the cause of action in the case did not arise out of the defendant’s
activity in the state, the only avenue for personal jurisdiction was general jurisdiction.
Finally, the third prong’s constitutional reasonableness inquiry permits a defendant “who
purposefully has directed his activities at forum residents” to defeat jurisdiction, if he can
“present a compelling case that the presence of some other considerations would render
jurisdiction unreasonable.” Burger King, 471 U.S. at 477. “This prong of the analysis ‘ensures
that litigation is not so gravely difficult and inconvenient as to place the defendant at a severe
disadvantage in comparison to his opponent.’” Tire Engineering & Distribution, LLC v.
Shandong Linglong Rubber Co., Ltd., 682 F.3d 292, 303 (4th Cir. 2012) (quoting CFA Inst., 551
F.3d at 296) (internal quotation marks omitted), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 133 S.Ct. 846
Defendant asserts: “Jayco has not ‘purposefully availed’ itself of the privilege of
conducting activities in Maryland.” ECF 16-1 at 6. According to defendant: “The fact that there
are dealers in Maryland who non-exclusively sell Jayco products is too fortuitous and attenuated
to establish general jurisdiction or specific jurisdiction.” Id.
As stated, plaintiffs point to Jayco’s contacts with Maryland through its relationship with
a Maryland dealer, Chesaco, to which Jayco sells its products. Id. They also rely on Jayco’s
website, which directs potential customers to Chesaco. Id. Plaintiffs argue: “[T]he fact that the
Plaintiffs in this case did not actually buy this product in Maryland is irrelevant. The Plaintiff
[sic] resides in Maryland and therefore should be entitled to sue in Maryland.” ECF 19 ¶ 13.
In Reply (ECF 20), Jayco observes that plaintiffs’ claims “do not arise out of Jayco’s
alleged contacts with Maryland.” Id. at 3. And, Jayco argues that plaintiffs’ residence in
Maryland “is insufficient to satisfy the minimum contacts test.” Id. at 3. In particular, Jayco
With respect to the sale of the subject motor home to Plaintiffs, the contract was
entered into between Plaintiffs and Camping World RV Super Center in
Colorado. (Exhibit A [ECF 20-1], Declaration of Craig Newcomer ¶ 13). There is
no purchase agreement between Jayco and Plaintiffs. (Decl. of Newcomer ¶13).
Jayco was not involved in the negotiations for the purchase of the motor home.
(Decl. of Newcomer ¶ 13). After purchase, any warranty repairs or services were
performed by Camping World RV Sales in Pennsylvania and Camping World RV
Super Center in Colorado. (Decl. of Newcomer ¶ 14).
In their Surreply, plaintiffs argue that absence of a purchase agreement between Jayco
and the plaintiffs is irrelevant because “[t]here is never any direct purchase agreement between
vehicle manufacturers and the ultimate buyer.”
ECF 24 at 1 (emphasis in original).
Furthermore, plaintiffs state that they are able to present evidence indicating that Roger Johnson,
the Customer Service Manager for Jayco, “specifically instructed Plaintiffs to go to”
Pennsylvania for repairs. Id. at 2.
Plaintiffs do not state where Johnson was located, nor do they indicate what means of
communication he used to instruct them to go to Pennsylvania for repairs. See id. Defendant
could have directed plaintiffs to a repair facility from anywhere in the world. Nevertheless, it is
noteworthy that Jayco apparently never suggested repairs in Maryland, where the Motorhome is
located. That supports an inference that Jayco does not have repair facilities in Maryland.
Even assuming, arguendo, that Jayco has some minimum contacts with Maryland, the
requirements for making a prima facie showing of specific jurisdiction over defendant are not
met here. Notably, according to plaintiffs, the conduct of Jayco in Maryland is not the conduct
that gave rise to the cause of action. See, e.g., Goodyear, 564 U.S. at 927. In particular,
plaintiffs purchased the Motorhome in Colorado, and they point to no conduct by Jayco that led
them to do so.
The District of Massachusetts’s decision in Killion v. Commonwealth Yachts, 421 F.
Supp. 2d 246 (D. Mass. 2006), is informative. In Killion, the plaintiff, a Massachusetts resident,
purchased a trawler boat at a boat show in Annapolis, Maryland. The boat was manufactured by
Mainship Corporation (“Mainship”), a New Jersey corporation with places of business in Florida
and Georgia. Id. at 249. Several years later, plaintiff brought suit in Massachusetts against
Mainship and the dealer, claiming that the trawler was defective. Id. Mainship moved to
dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. Id.
Plaintiff argued that several contacts connected Mainship with Massachusetts. These
contacts included that Mainship sent a fax to him in Massachusetts, with information about the
product; Mainship sold boats, at various times, through dealers in Massachusetts; one of
Mainship’s Massachusetts dealers gave plaintiff a “demo ride”; and a Mainship dealer in Maine
specifically sold to Massachusetts customers and repaired boats for Massachusetts customers.
Id. at 254-55.
The court determined that, notwithstanding those contacts, the court lacked personal
jurisdiction over Mainship, because plaintiff did not allege that any of the contacts between
Mainship and Massachusetts “gave rise to, or was directly related to, the contract with
Mainship.” Id. Based on the lack of detail in the complaint, the court also stated that it could not
“assess whether it is reasonable to infer that [plaintiff’s] demonstration ride was ‘instrumental to
the formation of the contract’ with [the dealer], or that it was the ‘cause in fact’ and the ‘legal
cause’ of the tort aspect of his case.” Id. at 255.
Here, although plaintiffs contend that Jayco sells its products in Maryland to a single
dealer with three locations in Maryland, plaintiffs did not purchase their Motorhome from or
through that dealer. Nor do they allege that they used Jayco’s website or that Jayco was in any
way involved with plaintiffs’ decision to purchase a Jayco Motorhome in Colorado. See ECF 2;
EF 19; ECF 24; ECF 26-1. And, after plaintiffs bought the vehicle in Colorado, they had it
repaired in Pennsylvania. As in Killion, plaintiffs have not alleged that any contacts between
Jayco and the State of Maryland are related to, or give rise to, the cause of action.
Moreover, the fact that plaintiffs live in Maryland and claim that Jayco directed them to
have their Motorhome serviced in Pennsylvania is irrelevant. As stated in Hanson, 357 U.S. at
253, the unilateral activities of the plaintiffs do not constitute contacts sufficient to subject
defendant to suit in this State.
In sum, although Jayco has some contacts with Maryland, plaintiffs have not alleged that
those contacts form the basis for this suit. Consulting Eng'rs, 561 F.3d at 278–79. Accordingly,
due process does not permit this Court to assert specific jurisdiction over defendant in this case.
I shall GRANT the Motion for Surreply. And, in light of the foregoing, plaintiffs have
failed to make a prima facie showing of either general or specific jurisdiction over defendant in
Maryland. Therefore, I shall GRANT the Motion to Dismiss.
An Order follows, consistent with this Memorandum Opinion.
Date: January 18, 2017
Ellen L. Hollander
United States District Judge
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