ZHANG v. ZHONGYUAN et al
WHEREAS OPINION. Signed by Judge Susan D. Wigenton on 6/7/2021. (ams, )
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
Civil Action No. 21-3643 (SDW) (LDW)
XU ZHONGYUAN, JOHN DOES #1-10, AND
ABC CORPS. #1-10,
June 7, 2021
WIGENTON, District Judge.
THIS MATTER having come before this Court upon the filing of Defendant Xu
Zhongyuan’s (“Defendant”) Motion to Dismiss (“Motion”) Plaintiff Yifan Zhang’s (“Plaintiff”)
Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“Rule”) 12(b)(2) for lack of personal
jurisdiction and Rule 12(b)(3) for improper venue; and
WHEREAS Plaintiff was injured on or about March 1, 2019, while skiing in Alberta,
Canada (D.E. 1 ¶¶ 6, 8–9, 11); and
WHEREAS on February 26, 2021, Plaintiff, a New Jersey citizen, filed this matter in the
District of New Jersey, asserting three counts sounding in negligence against Defendant, a citizen
of Illinois (id. ¶¶ 1–2, 5–24); and
WHEREAS Defendant filed his Motion on March 29, 2021 (D.E. 5), and all briefs were
filed in accordance with Magistrate Judge Leda D. Wettre’s scheduling order (D.E. 10, 11, 12);1
WHEREAS “federal district courts in New Jersey may assert personal jurisdiction over a
nonresident only to the extent authorized by state law.” Boyd v. Arizona, 469 F. App’x 92, 97 (3d
Cir. 2012) (citing Eurofins Pharma US Holdings v. BioAlliance Pharma SA, 623 F.3d 147, 155
(3d Cir. 2010)). To this end, “New Jersey’s long-arm statute provides for jurisdiction coextensive
with the due process requirements of the United States Constitution.” Miller Yacht Sales, Inc. v.
Smith, 384 F.3d 93, 96 (3d Cir. 2004).
WHEREAS constitutional due process principles provide that a court may assert either
specific or general jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant. Spuglio v. Cabaret Lounge, 344 F.
App’x 724, 725 (3d Cir. 2009). Specific jurisdiction is established through a minimum contacts
analysis. See Int’l Shoe Co. v. State of Wash., 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945); O’Connor v. Sandy Lane
Hotel Co., Ltd., 496 F.3d 312, 316 (3d Cir. 2007). In the Third Circuit, proving specific jurisdiction
requires establishing the following three requirements: (1) “the defendant must have purposefully
directed [its] activities at the forum”; (2) “the litigation must arise out of or relate to at least one of
those activities”; and (3) if the first two requirements are met, the exercise of jurisdiction must
“otherwise comport[ ] with fair play and substantial justice.” O’Connor, 496 F.3d at 317 (internal
citations and quotations omitted); Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 472 (1985).
General jurisdiction, by contrast, requires the defendant to have “systematic and continuous”
contacts with the forum state. Spuglio, 344 F. App’x at 725 (quoting Int’l Shoe, 326 U.S. at 320);
Defendant filed his Motion prematurely after Judge Wettre set a telephone conference for April 15, 2021 and directed
that no motions be filed prior to the Court’s conference. (D.E. 4, 6.) Because the parties were unable to resolve their
disputes thereafter, Defendant reinstated his Motion on April 22, 2021. (D.E. 8, 9.)
WHEREAS if a defendant challenges a court’s exercise of personal jurisdiction pursuant
to Rule 12(b)(2), “the plaintiff bears the burden to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, facts
sufficient to establish personal jurisdiction” with sworn affidavits or other competent documentary
evidence. Carteret Sav. Bank, FA v. Shushan, 954 F.2d 141, 146 (3d Cir. 1992); Miller Yacht, 384
F.3d at 101, n.6. The facts must demonstrate that the defendant purposefully availed himself “of
the privilege of conducting activities within the forum State, thus invoking the benefits and
protections of its laws.” Asahi Metal Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Super. Ct. of Cal., 480 U.S. 102, 109
WHEREAS Plaintiff does not oppose Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss for lack of personal
jurisdiction (D.E. 11 at 1, 6 (conceding that “Plaintiff does not have any facts” to oppose
Defendant’s Motion “in good faith”)); and
WHEREAS the only connection to New Jersey is the mere fact that a New Jersey resident
was involved in a ski accident in Canada (see generally D.E. 1); and
WHEREAS in line with the parties’ positions, this Court finds that it lacks general and
specific jurisdiction over the out-of-state Defendant who has not purposefully availed himself of
activity towards New Jersey, has no contacts in New Jersey, and has not consented to suit in New
Jersey, see, e.g., Covelman v. Hotel St. Regis, No. 14-5757, 2016 WL 762661, at *3 (D.N.J. Feb.
25, 2016) (finding no personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state defendant where the parties
conceded the same); see also Adelson v. Enter. Car Rental, No. 17-2209, 2017 WL 4538931, at
*3 (D.N.J. Oct. 10, 2017) (citing Decker v. Dyson, 165 F. App’x 951, 953 (3d Cir. 2006)) and
WHEREAS Plaintiff requests that this Court dismiss the instant action without prejudice
and toll the applicable statute of limitations for one year to allow the re-filing of this matter in
Illinois state court, or alternatively, asks that this case be transferred to the Northern District of
Illinois (id. at 1); and
WHEREAS the dismissal of this matter is without prejudice, so that Plaintiff may re-file
the action in an appropriate court; 2 and
WHEREAS this Court declines to toll the limitations period and does not opine on any
purported timeliness issues; and
WHEREAS the Third Circuit has stated that “a district court that lacks personal
jurisdiction must at least consider a transfer.” Danziger & De Llano, LLP v. Morgan Verkamp
LLC, 948 F.3d 124, 129 (3d Cir. 2020). As such, although this Court has broad discretion to
evaluate whether a transfer “is in the interest of justice” see 28 U.S.C. § 1631, “it need not
investigate on its own all other courts that ‘might’ or ‘could have’ heard the case.” Robert E.
Havell Revocable Tr. v. 41 Still Rd, LLC, No. 20-2468, 2021 WL 754032, at *5 (D.N.J. Feb. 25,
2021) (quoting Danziger, 948 F.3d at 132).
WHEREAS Plaintiff’s alternative but “not preferable” request to transfer this matter to
the Northern District of Illinois lacks argument (see generally D.E. 11); and
WHEREAS it remains unclear whether the proposed transfer is “in the interest of justice,”
particularly when the accident at issue occurred in Canada. 3 See 41 Still Rd, LLC, 2021 WL
754032, at *5.
Defendant does not object to dismissal of the action without prejudice. (See generally D.E. 12.) Because the parties
concede that this Court lacks personal jurisdiction over Defendant, it will not assess arguments as to improper venue.
Furthermore, despite Plaintiff’s request to toll the statute of limitations, he confidently asserts that the Illinois Saving
Statute “will entitle Plaintiff to have his day in Court,” precluding any limitations issues. (See D.E. 11 at 5–6.)
Accordingly, for the reasons set forth above, Defendant’s Motion (D.E. 5) is GRANTED.
Plaintiff’s Complaint is DISMISSED without prejudice and Plaintiff’s alternative request to
transfer this action to the Northern District of Illinois is DENIED. An appropriate order follows.
/s/ Susan D. Wigenton
SUSAN D. WIGENTON, U.S.D.J.
Leda D. Wettre, U.S.M.J.
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