Helicopter Transport Services, LLC et al v. Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation
Opinion and Order - Defendant's Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction (ECF 8 ) is DENIED. The parties are directed to confer regarding an appropriate case management schedule for this matter and to file not later than June 8, 2017, either a proposed stipulated case management schedule or each parties' respective proposed schedule. Signed on 5/23/2017 by Judge Michael H. Simon. (mja)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF OREGON
HELICOPTER TRANSPORT SERVICES,
LLC, a Delaware limited liability company,
and U.S. LEASECO, INC., a Delaware
Case No. 3:16-cv-2078-SI
OPINION AND ORDER
SIKORSKY AIRCRAFT CORPORATION,
a New York corporation,
Scott G. Seidman, Ryan M. Bledsoe, and Sarah Einowski, TONKON TORP LLP, 1600 Pioneer
Tower, 888 SW Fifth Avenue, Portland, OR 97204. Of Attorneys for Plaintiffs.
Jonathan M. Hoffman and Michael A. Yoshida, MB LAW GROUP LLP, 117 SW Taylor Street,
Suite 200, Portland, OR 97204. Of Attorneys for Defendant.
Michael H. Simon, District Judge.
Plaintiffs Helicopter Transport Services, LLC (“HTS”) and U.S. Leaseco, Inc.
(“Leaseco”) bring this action against Defendant Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation (“Sikorsky”),
alleging breach of contract and breach of the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness
PAGE 1 – OPINION AND ORDER
for a particular purpose. Before the Court is Defendant’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal
jurisdiction. For the reasons stated below, Defendant’s motion is DENIED.
On a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(2) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the plaintiff bears the burden of demonstrating that the court’s
exercise of jurisdiction is proper. See Schwarzenegger v. Fred Martin Motor Co., 374 F.3d 797,
800 (9th Cir. 2004). In evaluating the defendant’s motion, “[t]he court may consider evidence
presented in affidavits to assist it in its determination.” Doe v. Unocal Corp., 248 F.3d 915, 922
(9th Cir. 2001).
When the court’s determination is based on written materials rather than after an
evidentiary hearing, “the plaintiff need only make a prima facie showing of jurisdictional facts.”1
Sher v. Johnson, 911 F.2d 1357, 1361 (9th Cir. 1990) (emphasis added). “[T]he plaintiff need
only demonstrate facts that if true would support jurisdiction over the defendant.” Ballard v.
Savage, 65 F.3d 1495, 1498 (9th Cir. 1995). Although a plaintiff may not rest solely on bare
allegations in the complaint, uncontroverted allegations must be taken as true. Schwarzenegger,
374 F.3d at 800. The court, however, may not assume the truth of such allegations if they are
contradicted by affidavit. Data Disc, Inc. v. Sys. Tech. Assocs., Inc., 557 F.2d 1280, 1284 (9th
Cir. 1977). Further, conflicts among the parties over statements contained in affidavits must be
resolved in favor of the plaintiff. Schwarzenegger, 374 F.3d at 800.
Written materials may include pleadings, declarations, affidavits, deposition testimony,
and exhibits. See Omeluk v. Langsten Slip & Batbyggeri A/S, 52 F.3d 267, 268 (9th Cir. 1995).
PAGE 2 – OPINION AND ORDER
A. The Plaintiffs
Plaintiff HTS is a Delaware limited liability company with its principal place of business
in Aurora, Oregon. Plaintiff Leaseco is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of
business in Aurora, Oregon. Leaseco and HTS are the registered owner and lessee, respectively,
of a Sikorsky S-61R model, commercial heavy-lift helicopter, serial number 61501, bearing the
Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) registration N664Y (the “Helicopter”). On
October 30, 2012, the FAA grounded the Helicopter. Complaint (“Compl.”) ¶ 12. Plaintiffs have
been unable to fly the Helicopter ever since. Id. ¶ 15.
B. The Defendant
Defendant Sikorsky makes helicopters and manufactured the Helicopter at issue in this
lawsuit. Sikorsky is a New York corporation with its principal place of business in Stratford,
Connecticut. The S-61R Helicopter at issue is a member of the S-61 family of heavy-lift
helicopters made by Sikorsky. Declaration of Mark Pilon (“Pilon Decl.”) ¶ 18. There are only
two S-61R helicopters. One is owned by Plaintiff HTS. The other was owed by Carson
Helicopters (“Carson”) in Oregon. Pilon Decl. ¶ 19. Sikorsky manufactured the Helicopter at
issue in 1963 and operated it until 1970, when Sikorsky sold that Helicopter to Carson.
Declaration of Nancy Marcho (“Marcho Decl.”) ¶ 4. Sikorsky produced the last S-61 helicopter
in 1980. Id. ¶ 6. The last time that Sikorsky sold a new S-61 helicopter to a customer in Oregon
was at least 35 years ago. Id. ¶ 12.
Because of timber industry and firefighting needs in the west, the majority of the civilian,
heavy-lift helicopter industry is concentrated in Oregon. Pilon Decl. ¶ 7. Oregon is home to a
number of commercial helicopter operators that fly Sikorsky helicopters. Compl. ¶ 3. Both
Columbia Helicopters, Inc. (“Columbia”) and Erickson Incorporated (“Erickson”) are OregonPAGE 3 – OPINION AND ORDER
based companies that purchase and use helicopters in Oregon and elsewhere. Declaration of
Sarah Einowski (“Einowski Decl.”), Exs. 6, 7. Sikorsky conducted business with Columbia
beginning in 1967 and with Erickson in approximately 1970. Id. Sikorsky actively supports the
heavy-lift helicopter industry in Oregon. Pilon Decl. ¶ 7. Sikorsky has sent advertising materials
to Plaintiff HTS in Oregon and also advertises in magazines that are sent to Oregon. Pilon Decl.
¶ 14. Sikorsky also has a Fleet Technical Services Help Desk, through which Sikorsky provides
engineering services to the operators of its helicopters. Pilon Decl. ¶ 13.
Sikorsky does not design or manufacture any products in Oregon, does not own any land
or real property in Oregon, does not maintain any offices in Oregon, and is not registered to
conduct business in Oregon. Marcho Decl. ¶¶ 8-10. In addition, Sikorsky does not directly
contract with any dealers, retailers, or distributors located in Oregon for the sale of helicopters,
and it has no direct employees who regularly work in Oregon. Id. ¶¶ 10-11.
Sikorsky Commercial Services, Inc. (“SCS”) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sikorsky.
Declaration of William Ryall (“Ryall Decl.”) ¶¶ 4-5; Einowski Decl., Ex. 5 ¶ 2. In 1998,
Sikorsky acquired Helicopter Support, Inc. (“HSI”). Ryall Decl. ¶ 4. In January 2015, HSI
changed its name to “Sikorsky Commercial Services, Inc.” Ryall Decl. ¶ 5. (For convenience, the
Court will refer to HSI simply as “SCS.”)
Sikorsky itself does not sell commercial replacement helicopter parts; instead, they
replacement parts are sold by SCS. Ryall Decl. ¶ 3. SCS also provides dedicated logistical
support and repair services and maintains a comprehensive inventory of replacement helicopter
parts. Einowski Decl., Ex. 5 ¶ 63. As of 2007, SCS (then known as “HSI”) maintained more than
100,000 parts in inventory and serviced more than 900 customers in 56 countries. Einowski
PAGE 4 – OPINION AND ORDER
Decl., Ex. 5 ¶ 63. SCS also provides factory authorized services for Sikorsky’s S-61 helicopters.
Id. ¶ 64.
The only reliable sources for replacement parts for Sikorsky helicopters are Sikorsky and
its direct subsidiaries, including SCS. Pilon Decl. ¶ 15; Ryall Decl. ¶ 3. Sikorsky maintains an
interactive website to allow businesses and consumers to coordinate with Sikorsky and order
parts and technical support services online. Pilon Decl. ¶ 16; Einowski Decl., Ex. 5. Plaintiff
HTS has a Sikorsky-assigned customer code and login ID for Sikorsky’s portal so that HTS can
order replacement parts. Pilon Decl. ¶ 16. Sikorsky also has a second website,
www.sikorsky360.com, that makes Sikorsky’s technical manuals available to owners and
operators with a valid login and registration. Id. ¶ 17. HTS pays Sikorsky an annual subscription
fee for this service. Id.
William Ryall (“Ryall”) is employed by SCS as the “Aftermarket Program Manager”; he
works in Connecticut. Ryall Decl. ¶ 1. Gary Tate (“Tate”) works as a contractor for SCS; his title
is “Field Service Representative.” Declaration of Gary Tate (“Tate Decl.”) ¶ 1. Sikorsky tells its
customers that the Field Service Representative is the owner or operator’s “first point of contact”
for Sikorsky’s “localized support services.” Einowski Decl., Ex. 3 at 2. Tate holds himself out as
the “[d]irect technical liaison between Sikorsky and Sikorsky’s customers.” Einowski Decl.,
Ex. 2 at 1.
Tate lives in British Columbia, Canada. Tate Decl. ¶ 4. The territory for which Tate
provides field services consists of Canada, the West Coast of the United States, and Greenland.
Id. ¶ 3. Tate is not a salesman and does not take sales orders or promote or solicit the sale of
Sikorsky products. Id. ¶ 8. Instead, Tate’s job as a Field Service Representative “is to provide
technical assistance to resolve difficult or unusual maintenance problems and to serve as a
PAGE 5 – OPINION AND ORDER
technical liaison between Sikorsky and its customers.” Id. ¶ 7. Tate does not ordinarily meet
operators of Sikorsky helicopters in person in the United States; instead, he typically responds to
them by telephone, email, or occasionally fax. Id. ¶ 11.
In addition, if an owner or operator of a Sikorsky helicopter calls Tate in an effort to
locate a replacement part that is no longer manufactured by Sikorsky or sold by SCS, Tate makes
telephone calls to other owners and operators to see if anyone has the needed replacement part
available. Tate Decl. ¶ 9. If so, Tate will pass along that information to the person who originally
contacted him. Id. The services that Tate provides are free of charge to owners and operators of
Sikorsky helicopters. Tate Decl. ¶ 13.
Tate and others at Sikorsky or SCS provide HTS with the information necessary to
maintain and repair its Sikorsky helicopters. Pilon Decl. ¶ 9; Tate Decl. ¶ 1, 7. Tate also
periodically sends to HTS in Oregon safety bulletins and other relevant information. Pilon Decl.
¶ 10. In addition, Sikorsky, through Tate, periodically requests information from HTS in Oregon
about the operation of HTS’s Sikorsky-manufactured helicopters, and Sikorsky uses this
information to update its protocols for maintenance, repair, and overhaul. Id. ¶¶ 5, 11. Tate keeps
HTS advised about his general availability. Id. ¶ 12. During the past five years, Tate has
“received six requests for technical assistance” from Plaintiff HTS, “two of which appear to
relate to the main gearbox (MGB)” issue that is at the center of this lawsuit. Tate Decl. ¶ 14. Tate
“attempted to assist HTS in response” to its request. Id. at ¶ 15.
C. The Problem
Plaintiffs allege that when Leaseco purchased the Helicopter from a third party, Leaseco
became a successor-in-interest to Sikorsky’s contractual and implied warranty obligations owed
to owner-operators of Sikorsky’s S-61R helicopters. Compl. ¶ 18. Plaintiffs further allege that
Sikorsky breached those obligations by failing to manage the Helicopter’s type certificate
PAGE 6 – OPINION AND ORDER
(“TC”)2 “in such a way so that Plaintiffs could maintain the N664Y Helicopter to conform to the
TC and keep the helicopter airworthy.” Compl. ¶ 19. According to Plaintiffs, as a direct and
foreseeable result of Sikorsky’s breach, the Helicopter has been grounded since 2012, causing
HTS damages in the form of lost profits, unnecessary costs, and lost value. Id. ¶¶ 21-23.
From January 3, 1972, until October 2012, based on direct advice from Sikorsky, a model
number S6137-23000-013 MGB was installed in the Helicopter at issue. In 1982, Sikorsky itself
removed a -013 MGB and replaced it with another -013 MGB. In the fall of 2012, the Helicopter
needed a new MGB. HTS hired RotorMaxx to perform this work. Sikorsky employee Robert F.
Bellone advised HTS that MGB models -013 through -019 all conformed to the type certificate
and would, therefore, be acceptable to install in the Helicopter. Based on Sikorsky’s advice,
because no other -013 MGB was available, HTS installed a -019 MGB. Shortly after the new
MGB was installed, however, the Helicopter underwent a routine inspection by the FAA office
in Hillsboro, Oregon. Pilon Decl. ¶¶ 22-25.
The FAA office in Oregon raised concerns regarding, among other issues, the new MGB.
HTS contacted Tate, who replied that he would be speaking with the FAA’s office in Hillsboro,
Oregon. On November 2, 2012, Sikorsky again assured HTS that the correct MGB had been
installed, that Sikorsky would draft a letter confirming this, and that HTS could forward the letter
to the FAA in Hillsboro. HTS sent this letter, with Mr. Bellone’s consent, to the FAA in
Hillsboro. Despite this letter, a week later, HTS learned that Sikorsky had informed the Boston
According to Plaintiffs, “[t]he FAA requires all aircraft models to have a TC to be
authorized to operate for civilian purposes. The TC sets out the requirements or the references to
documents for an aircraft to meet that FAA approved manufacturing design. Once issued, the
design can be changed through an application for a supplemental type certificate (“STC”) or by
amending the TC.” Compl. ¶ 9. See also Nat. Gas Pipeline Co. of Am. v. United States, 742 F.2d
502, 504 (9th Cir. 1984) (discussing the type certification application and issuance process).
PAGE 7 – OPINION AND ORDER
Aircraft Certification Office (“ACO”) of the FAA that only -017 and -018 MGBs could be
installed on the S-61R Helicopter.
Under the FAA’s structure, the ACO manages type certificates based on geography.
Because Sikorsky is in Connecticut, the Boston ACO office has jurisdiction over Sikorsky’s type
certification, and all information must go through that office. The Boston ACO amended the
S-61 type certificate to reflect this newly disclosed information from Sikorsky. The Boston
ACO, based on the information it received from Sikorsky, informed the FAA in Hillsboro,
Oregon that only the -017 and -018 model MGBs were approved for the S-61R. Relying on
Sikorsky’s advice to the Boston ACO, the FAA ordered the Helicopter grounded until a
conforming MGB could be installed. According to Plaintiffs, there are no -017 or -018 MGBs
being manufactured or otherwise available to install on the Helicopter, and there is no complete
set of technical specifications or blueprints from which a -017 or -018 MGB could be made.
Thus, because -017 and -018 MGBs are not available, the Helicopter at issue “will likely be
grounded indefinitely.” Pilon Decl. ¶¶ 25-31.
A. Personal Jurisdiction: General and Specific
Unless a federal statute governs personal jurisdiction, a district court applies the personal
jurisdiction law of the forum state. See Boschetto v. Hansing, 539 F.3d 1011, 1015 (9th Cir.
2008). Oregon’s long-arm statute for personal jurisdiction is found in Rule 4 of the Oregon Rules
of Civil Procedure (“ORCP”). ORCP 4A-4K provide specific bases of personal jurisdiction, and
ORCP 4L is Oregon’s “catch-all” provision. Regardless of which Oregon rule serves as the basis
for jurisdiction, “the limit on an Oregon court’s exercise of personal jurisdiction over a defendant
is the same—federal due process.” Swank v. Terex Utils., Inc., 274 Or. App. 47, 57 (2015). Thus,
PAGE 8 – OPINION AND ORDER
for jurisdiction to be proper under Oregon law, it also must not offend federal constitutional due
process requirements. See Boschetto, 539 F.3d at 1015.
Due process requires that a defendant “have certain minimum contacts with [the forum]
such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend ‘traditional notions of fair play and
substantial justice.’” Int’l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945) (quoting Milliken v.
Meyer, 311 U.S. 457, 463 (1940)). The Supreme Court has rejected the application of
“mechanical” tests to determine personal jurisdiction. Id. at 319; see also Burger King Corp. v.
Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 478 (1985). Rather, a court should consider the “quality and nature of
the activity in relation to the fair and orderly administration of the laws which it was the purpose
of the due process clause to insure.” Int’l Shoe, 326 U.S. at 319.
“There are two forms of personal jurisdiction that a forum state may exercise over a
nonresident defendant—general jurisdiction and specific jurisdiction.” Boschetto, 539 F.3d
at 1016. A court has general personal jurisdiction over a defendant whose contacts with the
forum are “continuous and systematic,” even if those contacts are wholly unrelated to the
plaintiff’s claims. Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 415-16
(1984). If the court lacks general personal jurisdiction, it may have specific (also known as
“limited”) personal jurisdiction if the defendant has certain minimum contacts with the forum
state, the controversy arose out of those contacts, and the exercise of jurisdiction is reasonable.
See Burger King, 471 U.S. at 472-74.
The Ninth Circuit applies a three-part test to determine whether the exercise of specific
jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant is appropriate:
(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
PAGE 9 – OPINION AND ORDER
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.
Brayton Purcell LLP v. Recordon & Recordon, 606 F.3d 1124, 1128 (9th Cir. 2010) (quoting
Schwarzenegger, 374 F.3d at 802). The plaintiff bears the burden as to the first two prongs, but if
both are established, then “the defendant must come forward with a ‘compelling case’ that the
exercise of jurisdiction would not be reasonable.” Boschetto, 539 F.3d at 1016 (quoting
Schwarzenegger, 374 F.3d at 802). “[I]f the plaintiff fails at the first step, the jurisdictional
inquiry ends and the case must be dismissed.” Id.
The first prong embodies two distinct, although sometimes conflated, concepts known as
“purposeful availment” and “purposeful direction.” See Wash. Shoe Co. v. A-Z Sporting Goods
Inc., 704 F.3d 668, 672-73 (9th Cir. 2012); Brayton Purcell, 606 F.3d at 1128. “A purposeful
availment analysis is most often used in suits sounding in contract. A purposeful direction
analysis, on the other hand, is most often used in suits sounding in tort.” Schwarzenegger, 374
F.3d at 802 (internal citations omitted).
Sikorsky moves to dismiss Plaintiffs’ lawsuit for lack of personal jurisdiction in the
District of Oregon. Although Plaintiffs originally alleged in their Complaint that Sikorsky is
subject to both general and specific personal jurisdiction in this district, Compl. ¶ 5, Plaintiffs
now rely only on a theory of specific jurisdiction. Declaration of Jonathan M. Hoffman
(“Hoffman Decl.”) at ¶ 3. Accordingly, the Court only evaluates the question of whether there is
specific personal jurisdiction in this district over Sikorsky. Further, because Plaintiffs allege in
PAGE 10 – OPINION AND ORDER
their Complaint only claims of breach of contract and breach of implied warranties, the Court
applies the purposeful availment standard, rather than the purposeful direction test.
B. Forum Contacts of a Defendant’s Agent in Specific Jurisdiction Cases
During oral argument, Plaintiffs cited the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Doe v. Unocal
Corp., 248 F.3d 915 (9th Cir. 2001), for the proposition that a court may consider the forum
contacts of a defendant’s agent when evaluating specific jurisdiction. Neither side mentioned this
case in their pre-hearing memoranda. The Court, however, allowed supplemental briefing from
both sides and now addresses this issue. In Unocal, Burmese citizens brought a putative class
action against a United States oil company and a French corporation. The French company
moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. The district court granted the motion, finding
neither general nor specific jurisdiction. The Ninth Circuit affirmed, adopting as its own a
portion of the district court’s opinion. Unocal, 248 F.3d at 920-21.
In the adopted portion of the district court’s opinion that discussed general jurisdiction,
the district court noted that “[t]he existence of a relationship between a parent company and its
subsidiaries is not sufficient to establish personal jurisdiction over the parent on the basis of the
subsidiaries’ minimum contacts with the forum.” Id. at 925. The district court added, however,
that “‘if the parent and subsidiary are not really separate entities, or one acts as an agent of the
other, the local subsidiary’s contacts with the forum may be imputed to the foreign parent
corporation.’” Id. at 926 (quoting El-Fadl v. Cent. Bank of Jordan, 75 F.3d 668, 676 (D.C. Cir.
1996)). The district court proceeded to discuss both the alter ego doctrine and principles of
Regarding agency, the district court noted: “The agency test is satisfied by a showing that
the subsidiary functions as the parent corporation’s representative in that it performs services that
are ‘sufficiently important to the foreign corporation that if it did not have a representative to
PAGE 11 – OPINION AND ORDER
perform them, the corporation’s own officials would undertake to perform substantially similar
services.’” Id. at 928 (quoting Chan v. Soc’y Expeditions, Inc., 39 F.3d 1398, 1405 (9th Cir.
1994)). Notwithstanding this discussion, the district court in Unocal found both general and
specific jurisdiction lacking. As already noted, the Ninth Circuit affirmed.
Nevertheless, at oral argument in the pending case Plaintiffs referred to the agency
discussion in Unocal in support of Plaintiffs’ argument for specific jurisdiction over Sikorsky—
even though Unocal’s discussion about agency appeared only in that court’s analysis of general
jurisdiction. In Defendant Sikorsky’s Supplemental Memorandum in Support of Motion to
Dismiss (ECF 23), filed after the hearing, Sikorsky correctly observes that in Daimler AG v.
Bauman, 134 S.Ct. 746 (2014), the United States Supreme Court rejected the same agency
analysis relied upon in Unocal. In Daimler, the Supreme Court stated:
The Ninth Circuit’s agency finding rested primarily on its
observation that MBUSA’s services were “important” to Daimler,
as gauged by Daimler’s hypothetical readiness to perform those
services itself if MBUSA did not exist. Formulated this way, the
inquiry into importance stacks the deck, for it will always yield a
pro-jurisdiction answer: “Anything a corporation does through an
independent contractor, subsidiary, or distributor is presumably
something that the corporation would do ‘by other means’ if the
independent contractor, subsidiary, or distributor did not exist.”
[Bauman v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., 676 F.3d 774, 777 (9th Cir.
2011)] (O’Scannlain, J., dissenting from denial of rehearing en
banc). The Ninth Circuit’s agency theory thus appears to subject
foreign corporations to general jurisdiction whenever they have an
in-state subsidiary or affiliate, an outcome that would sweep
beyond even the “sprawling view of general jurisdiction” we
rejected in Goodyear [Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown,
564 U.S. 915, 929 (2011)].
Daimler, 134 S. Ct. at 759-60 (footnote omitted). Sikorsky adds that the Ninth Circuit later
acknowledged the overruling of Unocal’s agency analysis.
In Ranza v. Nike, Inc., the Ninth Circuit stated:
PAGE 12 – OPINION AND ORDER
Before the Supreme Court’s Daimler decision, this circuit
permitted a plaintiff to pierce the corporate veil for jurisdictional
purposes and attribute a local entity’s contacts to its out-of-state
affiliate under one of two separate tests: the “agency” test and the
“alter ego” test. See Bauman v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., 644 F.3d
909, 920 (9th Cir. 2011), rev’d sub nom. Daimler AG v. Bauman,
134 S.Ct. 746 (2014). The agency test required a plaintiff to show
the subsidiary “perform[ed] services that [were] sufficiently
important to the foreign corporation that if it did not have a
representative to perform them, the corporation’s own officials
would undertake to perform substantially similar services.” Id.
(quoting Unocal, 248 F.3d at 928). The Supreme Court invalidated
this test. See Daimler, 134 S.Ct. at 759. It held that focusing on
whether the subsidiary performs “important” work the parent
would have to do itself if the subsidiary did not exist “stacks the
deck, for it will always yield a pro-jurisdiction answer.” Id. Such a
theory, the Court concluded, sweeps too broadly to comport with
the requirements of due process. See id. at 759-60. The agency test
is therefore no longer available to Ranza to establish jurisdiction
793 F.3d 1059, 1071 (9th Cir. 2015). Although Ranza involved only the assertion of general
jurisdiction, and not specific jurisdiction, 793 F.3d at 1069, Sikorsky urges that the same “stack
the deck” reasoning that the Supreme Court discussed in Daimler also should apply in the
context of specific jurisdiction.
Sikorsky also quotes from the Supreme Court’s decision in Walden v. Fiore, 134 S. Ct.
1115, 1122 (2014) (holding that “the relationship must arise out of contacts that the ‘defendant
himself’ creates with the forum State” (quoting Burger King, 471 U.S. at 475)). Sikorsky notes
that both Walden and Burger King were specific jurisdiction cases. Neither Walden nor Burger
King, however, addressed the agency issue that was analyzed in Daimler. Thus, neither case
sheds much light on the question of whether an agent’s forum contacts are relevant in a specific
In Plaintiffs’ Response to Defendant’s Supplemental Memorandum (ECF 24), Plaintiffs
acknowledge that after Unocal, it is established that an agent’s contacts with the forum state are
PAGE 13 – OPINION AND ORDER
irrelevant to a federal court’s analysis of general jurisdiction. Citing Daimler, Plaintiffs agree
that a company is not “at home” in a state merely because one or more of its agents are acting in
that state. Daimler, 134 S.Ct. at 769 (Sotomayor, J., concurring in the judgment). Nevertheless,
Plaintiffs argue that Sikorsky’s reliance on Daimler is misplaced.3
The Supreme Court in Daimler made clear that an agent’s contacts with the forum state
are relevant to the analysis of specific jurisdiction. Daimler only overruled Unocal with respect
to the relevance of an agent’s contacts for purposes of analyzing general jurisdiction. In Daimler,
the Supreme Court expressly limited its holding to general jurisdiction cases and reaffirmed
longstanding case law reaching a contrary result in specific jurisdiction cases. In footnote 13 of
Daimler, the Supreme Court stated:
Agency relationships, we have recognized, may be relevant to the
existence of specific jurisdiction. “[T]he corporate personality,”
International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310 . . . (1945),
observed, “is a fiction, although a fiction intended to be acted upon
as though it were a fact.” Id., at 316. See generally 1 W. Fletcher,
Cyclopedia of the Law of Corporations § 30, p. 30 (Supp. 20122013) (“A corporation is a distinct legal entity that can act only
through its agents.”). As such, a corporation can purposefully
avail itself of a forum by directing its agents or distributors to
take action there. See, e.g., Asahi [Metal Indus. Co. v. Superior
Court of Cal., Solano Cty.], 480 U.S. [102,] 112 . . . [(1987)]
(opinion of O’Connor, J.) (defendant’s act of “marketing [a]
product through a distributor who has agreed to serve as the sales
agent in the forum State” may amount to purposeful availment);
International Shoe, 326 U.S., at 318 (“the commission of some
single or occasional acts of the corporate agent in a state” may
sometimes “be deemed sufficient to render the corporation liable to
suit” on related claims). See also Brief for Petitioner 24
(acknowledging that “an agency relationship may be sufficient in
some circumstances to give rise to specific jurisdiction”). It does
Sikorsky objects to Plaintiffs’ response, including Plaintiffs’ discussion of Daimler’s
comments regarding agency. ECF 25. Sikorsky’s objection is overruled. Plaintiffs’ response
merely distinguishes Sikorsky’s discussion of Daimler. Both sides have had a full and fair
opportunity to present their respective views on this subject.
PAGE 14 – OPINION AND ORDER
not inevitably follow, however, that similar reasoning applies to
general jurisdiction. Cf. Goodyear, 564 U.S., at ____, 131 S. Ct.,
at 2855 (faulting analysis that “elided the essential difference
between case-specific and all-purpose (general) jurisdiction”).
Daimler, 134 S. Ct. at 759 n.13 (emphasis added).4
C. Purposeful Availment
1. Purposeful Availment Generally
“To have purposefully availed itself of the privilege of doing business in the forum, a
defendant must have ‘performed some type of affirmative conduct which allows or promotes the
transaction of business within the forum state.’” Boschetto, 539 F.3d at 1016 (quoting Sher, 911
F.2d at 1362). In cases involving contractual obligations, the Supreme Court emphasizes “the
need for a ‘highly realistic’ approach that recognizes that a ‘contract’ is ‘ordinarily but an
intermediate step serving to tie up prior business negotiations with future consequences which
themselves are the real object of the business transaction.’” Burger King, 471 U.S. at 479
(quoting Hoopeston Canning Co. v. Cullen, 318 U.S. 313, 316-17 (1943)). The court’s review of
the contractual relationship must be “practical and pragmatic.” Boschetto, 539 F.3d at 1016. A
court should consider “prior negotiations and contemplated future consequences, along with the
terms of the contract and the parties’ actual course of dealing” in determining whether the
defendant purposefully established minimum contacts within the forum. Burger King, 471 U.S.
Sikorsky also calls the Court’s attention to contrary comments in Moore v. Gulf Atlantic
Packaging Corp., 2016 WL 8231142, at *12 (D. Or. Nov. 29, 2016), report and recommendation
adopted, 2017 WL 540051 (D. Or. Feb. 9, 2017). The Magistrate Judge in that case, however,
did not address footnote 13 from Daimler. Similarly, when the undersigned adopted the report
and recommendation of the Magistrate Judge, the undersigned also did not focus on footnote 13.
In light of Daimler’s footnote 13, this Court now rejects this portion of the analysis in Moore.
PAGE 15 – OPINION AND ORDER
An “individual’s contract with an out-of-state party alone” cannot “automatically
establish sufficient minimum contacts in the other party’s home forum.” Burger King, 471 U.S.
at 478. Parties to an interstate contract who “‘reach out beyond one state and create continuing
relationships and obligations with citizens of another state’ are subject to regulation and
sanctions in the other State for the consequences of their activities.” Id. at 473 (quoting Travelers
Health Ass’n v. Virginia, 339 U.S. 643, 647 (1950)). This continuing relationship must create a
“‘substantial connection,’” id. at 479 (quoting McGee v. Int’l Life Ins. Co., 355 U.S. 220, 223
(1957)), between the defendant and the forum state that is more than merely “‘random,’
‘fortuitous,’ or ‘attenuated.’” Id. at 479-80 (quoting Hanson v. Denckla, 357 U.S. 235, 253
“[I]t is the defendant’s conduct that must form the necessary connection with the forum
State that is the basis for its jurisdiction over him.” Walden, 134 S. Ct. at 1122. A defendant’s
contacts with the forum, however, “may be intertwined with his transactions or interactions with
the plaintiff or other parties. But a defendant’s relationship with a plaintiff or third party,
standing alone, is an insufficient basis for jurisdiction.” Id. at 1123. “Due process requires that a
defendant be haled into a court in a forum State based on his own affiliation with the State, not
based on the ‘random, fortuitous, or attenuated’ contacts he makes by interacting with other
persons affiliated with the State.” Id. (quoting Burger King, 471 U.S. at 475).
A defendant whose interstate contract contemplates “significant future consequences” or
“continuing and wide-reaching contacts” in another state has the requisite continuing relationship
with the parties to the contract in that state. Id. at 1122; see also Roth v. Garcia Marquez, 942
F.2d 617, 622 (9th Cir. 1991). Similarly, a defendant who created continuing obligations to
residents of another state has satisfied the “purposeful availment” requirement. Ballard, 65 F.3d
PAGE 16 – OPINION AND ORDER
at 1498. Conversely, a continuing relationship is not established by a “one-time contract for the
sale of a good that involved the forum state only because that is where the purchaser happened to
reside, but otherwise created no substantial connection or ongoing obligations there.” Boschetto,
539 F.3d at 1019 (quoting McGee, 355 U.S. at 223). Finally, as previously discussed, the
Supreme Court explained in Daimler that “a corporation can purposefully avail itself of a forum
by directing its agents or distributors to take action there.” Daimler, 134 S.Ct. at 759 n.13.
2. Purposeful Availment Applied
The Court begins its analysis with the well-established rule applicable in cases asserting
specific personal jurisdiction: “a corporation can purposefully avail itself of a forum by directing
its agents or distributors to take action there.” Daimler, 134 S.Ct. at 759 n.13. The Court then
focuses on the actions of Defendant’s agent, its wholly-owned subsidiary SCS. Indeed, but for
the actions of SCS, the conduct of Sikorsky by itself would be insufficient to establish specific
As discussed, SCS sells commercial replacement helicopter parts throughout the world,
including in Oregon. SCS maintains a comprehensive inventory of replacement helicopter parts,
and the only reliable source for replacement parts for Sikorsky helicopters is SCS. Moreover,
Sikorsky has sent advertising materials to HTS in Oregon and has advertised in magazines sent
to Oregon. Thus, Sikorsky and SCS market to and serve customers in Oregon with replacement
parts and other forms of technical assistance.
SCS and Sikorsky also provide dedicated logistical support and repair services. Sikorsky
tells its customers that the Field Service Representative is the owner or operator’s first point of
contact for Sikorsky’s localized support services, and Tate holds himself out as the direct
technical liaison between Sikorsky and Sikorsky’s customers. Tate, although a contractor for
SCS, is Sikorsky’s resource available to HTS with information necessary to maintain and repair
PAGE 17 – OPINION AND ORDER
its Sikorsky helicopters and for resolving difficult or unusual maintenance problems. During the
past five years, HTS has communicated with Tate six times, two of which involve the MGB at
issue in this lawsuit, and Tate attempted to assist HTS in response.
Further, Sikorsky maintains an interactive website to allow businesses and consumers to
coordinate with Sikorsky and order parts from SCS and to receive technical support services
online. Plaintiff HTS has a Sikorsky-assigned customer code and login ID for Sikorsky’s portal
so that HTS can order replacement parts from SCS. Sikorsky also has a second website that
makes its technical manuals available to owners and operators with a valid login and registration,
and HTS pays Sikorsky an annual subscription fee for this service.
In addition, the Ninth Circuit applies a “sliding scale analysis” that looks to how
interactive an Internet website is for purposes of determining its jurisdictional effect.
Boschetto, 539 F.3d at 1018. The likelihood that personal jurisdiction can be constitutionally
exercised is directly proportionate to the nature and quality of the commercial activity that an
entity conducts over the Internet. Cybersell, Inc. v. Cybersell, Inc., 130 F.3d 414, 419 (9th Cir.
1997). Plaintiffs argue that Sikorsky’s websites are highly interactive because they require
individualized login and registration information to access. Because the majority of the civilian,
heavy-lift helicopter industry is concentrated in Oregon, Sikorsky, including SCS, must know
that its customers who use its web portals are doing so from Oregon.
As the Ninth Circuit has explained, “[t]o have purposefully availed itself of the privilege
of doing business in the forum, a defendant must have ‘performed some type of affirmative
conduct which allows or promotes the transaction of business within the forum state.’”
Boschetto, 539 F.3d at 1016 (quoting Sher, 911 F.2d at 1362). By selling replacement parts and
providing technical assistance to customers in Oregon, Sikorsky (at least through SCS) promotes
PAGE 18 – OPINION AND ORDER
the transaction of business within the forum state. In addition, the Supreme Court, in a case
asserting specific personal jurisdiction, directs courts to conduct “a ‘highly realistic’ approach
that recognizes that a ‘contract’ is ‘ordinarily but an intermediate step serving to tie up prior
business negotiations with future consequences which themselves are the real object of the
business transaction.’” Burger King, 471 U.S. at 479 (quoting Hoopeston Canning, 318 U.S.
at 316-17). For Sikorsky, after the helicopter is sold, the real object of the business transaction
becomes the sale of replacement parts and related services and technical advice.
Walden does not require a finding of no personal jurisdiction over Sikorsky. The
defendants in Walden “never traveled to, conducted activities within, contacted anyone in, or
sent anything to anyone” in the forum state. Walden, 134 S. Ct. at 1124. Here, Sikorsky itself and
through SCS has had significant contacts with Oregon. It has a longstanding business
relationship with many businesses in Oregon, contacts HTS and other businesses in Oregon, and
sends parts, information, advice, and advertisements to Oregon, including advice to HTS and the
FAA in Oregon relating to the MGB at issue in this lawsuit. As the Supreme Court noted in
Walden, the critical inquiry is looking at the defendant’s contacts with the forum state to ensure
jurisdiction is “based on his own affiliation with the State, not based on the ‘random, fortuitous,
or attenuated’ contacts he makes by interacting with other persons affiliated with the State.” Id.
at 1123. There is nothing random or fortuitous about Sikorsky’s connections with Oregon.
Further, Oregon has several heavy-lift helicopter companies, and Sikorsky targets those
companies in this forum to do business. Thus, Sikorsky’s “conduct connects [it] to the forum in a
meaningful way.” Id. at 1125.
To find otherwise would allow a company to solicit business in a foreign state, maintain
longstanding business relationships and obligations, and engage in many telephone calls and
PAGE 19 – OPINION AND ORDER
email communications directed to the forum state in furtherance of those business relationships,
but then avoid personal jurisdiction simply by hiring an agent who is out-of-state and who does
not travel to the forum. “[P]hysical entry is not a prerequisite to jurisdiction.” Id. at 1122. The
Court will not “entirely negate the otherwise permissible exercise of jurisdiction over defendants
who purposefully directed their activities at a forum state without entering the state.” Leibman v.
Prupes, 2015 WL 898454, at *10 (C.D. Cal. Mar. 2, 2015).
Moreover, the Court looks to Oregon law of personal jurisdiction. The Oregon Court of
Appeals considered ORCP 4D and found personal jurisdiction where the defendant had fewer
contacts with Oregon than does Sikorsky. Swank, 274 Or. App. 47. Although the case involved
personal jurisdiction under ORCP 4D, the court expressly noted that ORCP 4D, like ORCP 4L
and all of its other provisions, are subject to federal due process limitations on personal
jurisdiction. Id. at 57. Thus, the Oregon Court of Appeals necessarily found that the level of
contacts involved did not offend federal constitutional due process requirements.
The defendant in Swank, Manitex, was the owner of a line of cranes. Id. at 51. There were
14 such cranes in Oregon, although none of them had been purchased directly from Manitex. Id.
Manitex discovered a problem with the cranes and sent a bulletin to all known crane owners
discussing the defect. Id. at 51-52. Approximately 18 months later, Manitex sent out a second
bulletin discussing kits for retrofitting the cranes. Id. at 52. One crane owner had sold its crane to
an Oregon company, ES&A. After receipt of the second bulletin, the original crane owner
forwarded both bulletins to ES&A. Id. at 53. ES&A reached out to Manitex by email and
facsimile, asking about the crane defects and retrofitting, but Manitex did not respond. Id. The
plaintiff was injured in an accident involving ES&A’s crane. After the accident, Manitex began
communicating with ES&A. Id.
PAGE 20 – OPINION AND ORDER
Manitex argued that Oregon courts did not have personal jurisdiction over it because
Manitex had never made contact with any Oregon company, had never directed any activity to an
Oregon resident, did not solicit business from ES&A, did not attempt to solicit business from any
Oregon customer, and there was no basis on which Manitex could anticipate being haled into
Court in Oregon. Id. at 63. The Oregon Court of Appeals rejected these arguments.
The court found personal jurisdiction under ORCP 4D.5 Id. at 65. The court held that
because Manitex had engaged in a “field campaign” relating to the cranes, that constituted
“service” as that term is used in ORCP 4D. Id. at 64. Thus, the court concluded that because
Manitex engaged in a campaign designed to reach all crane owners, it targeted the forums in
which those crane owners resided, including Oregon, and it “was not through fortuity that
Manitex had contact with Oregon.” Id. at 64.
Similarly, Sikorsky reaches out to the heavy lift helicopter owners and operators in
Oregon, including HTS. Sikorsky (including SCS) solicits business with them through its
interactive website for parts ordering and through its website providing an annual subscription
service for its technical manuals. It provides ongoing services, including advice and information
relating to repair and maintenance of the helicopters. And unlike Manitex, Sikorsky (including
SCS) directly contacts HTS and other Oregon business through advertising, email, and telephone
ORCP 4D provides jurisdiction for foreign acts that cause in-state injury to person or
property, based on tort or contract, when either the acts giving rise to the injury occurred in
Oregon or the injury took place in Oregon and either: (1) solicitation or service activities were
carried on within Oregon by or on behalf of the defendant; or (2) products, materials, or things
distributed, processed, services, or manufactured by the defendant were used or consumed within
this state in the ordinary course of trade. ORCP 4D; see also Swank, 274 Or. App. at 57 (quoting
Comment to Rule 4, Final Rule, Oregon R. of Civ. P., Council on Court Procedures, Dec. 2,
1978, at 12 (Comment to Rule 4)).
PAGE 21 – OPINION AND ORDER
communications, which more strongly supports a finding of personal jurisdiction than does the
limited and indirect contacts in Swank.
As the court noted in Swank, in considering personal jurisdiction a court is not concerned
with whether a plaintiff’s claim has any merit, but only with whether the circumstances of the
claim fall within the requirements for personal jurisdiction. Id. at 59. Based on the facts
presented, Plaintiffs have met their burden at step one of the three-part test used in cases
asserting specific jurisdiction. See Brayton Purcell, 606 F.3d at 1128.
D. Step Two: Arising Out of or Relating to Contacts with the Forum State
The Ninth Circuit relies “on a ‘but for’ test to determine whether a particular claim arises
out of forum-related activities and thereby satisfies the second requirement for specific
jurisdiction.” Ballard, 65 F.3d at 1500. Thus, the relevant question is: but for Sikorsky’s contacts
with Oregon (including SCS’s contacts with Oregon because SCS is Sikorsky’s agent), would
Plaintiffs’ claims have arisen?6
Sikorsky argues that Plaintiffs allege breaches of contract and implied warranties
consisting of failing to “manage the aircraft’s Type Certificate to allow Plaintiffs to conform the
helicopter to an FAA-approved configuration or type design to ensure its airworthiness,” failing
The Oregon Supreme Court has adopted a combined “but for” and “reasonably
foreseeable” standard for personal jurisdiction under ORCP 4L. See Robinson v. HarleyDavidson Motor Co., 354 Or. 572, 594 (2013). The court in Robinson rejected the “but-for” test
as “overinclusive.” Id. at 589. The court instead added the requirement at step two that for the
litigation to “arise out of or relate to” at least one of the forum activities, the activity “must be a
but-for cause of the litigation and provide a basis for an objective determination that the
litigation was reasonably foreseeable.” Id. at 594. The Court does not address the implications, if
any, between Oregon adopting a different test from the Ninth Circuit’s test because the Court
finds that the litigation was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of Sikorsky’s conduct in
advising Plaintiffs that it could install the -019 MGB, in providing a letter for Plaintiffs to
forward to the FAA in Oregon, stating that Plaintiffs could install the -019 MGB. Sikorsky then
told the FAA that the Helicopter could not use the -019 MGB that was installed. Thus, even
under Oregon’s test, step two would be met.
PAGE 22 – OPINION AND ORDER
to “create a maintenance manual and parts catalog for the S-61R, which aggravated the failure to
manage the TC,” and “informing the FAA that the S-61R helicopter requires a model gear box
that does not exist and, even if it did exist, would not fit or be usable in the aircraft.” ECF 8
at 11-12 (quoting Compl. ¶¶ 6, 19, 20, 27).
In response, Plaintiffs assert that the grounding of the Helicopter arises out of or relates to
Sikorsky’s affirmative conduct directed at Plaintiffs and the FAA in Oregon. ECF 13 at 20.
As the Type Certificate holder for the S-61R, Sikorsky has a
responsibility for keeping the aircraft airworthy. In an effort to
meet that obligation, Sikorsky has a field service representative,
Mr. Tate, dedicated to responding to questions and requests
regarding Sikorsky’s helicopters in Oregon, including the N664Y
Helicopter. (Pilon Dec., ¶ 8.) Sikorsky’s Oregon field service
representative, along with other Sikorsky employees, advised HTS
that it could install either a -013 or a -019 MGB in the N664Y
Helicopter. (Pilon Dec., ¶ 23, 27.) Based on Sikorsky’s advice,
RotorMaxx installed the -019 MGB in the N664Y Helicopter for
HTS, which the FAA believed to be a -013 MGB. When an issue
arose with the FAA, Sikorsky assured HTS that, “the team here at
Sikorsky will help straighten this issue out [for] you.” (Pilon Dec.,
¶ 23, Ex. 6 at 4.)
Despite its advice and assurances, Sikorsky then told the FAA that
the N664Y Helicopter could only be fitted with a -017 or -018
model MGB. (Pilon Dec., ¶ 28.) Sikorsky’s conflicting advice—
which it purposefully directed towards HTS in Oregon and which
the Court may reasonably infer that Sikorsky knew would go to the
FAA in Oregon—caused the N664Y Helicopter to be grounded.
Plaintiffs’ claims “arise out of or relate to Sikorsky's actions
directed at Oregon.[”]
ECF 13 at 21.
Sikorsky sold an airworthy helicopter over 40 years ago.
Thereafter, the “owner or operator of an aircraft is primarily
responsible for maintaining that aircraft in an airworthy
condition . . . .” 14 C.F.R. § 91.403(a). The FAA had never
approved the -019 MGB for use on the S-61R. No replacement
PAGE 23 – OPINION AND ORDER
MGB was available. No regulation requires a Type Certificate
holder to continue to manufacture replacement parts, let alone for
decades after it stopped manufacturing that model. The grounding
of the helicopter arose from this reality, not because Sikorsky
informed the FAA that the -019 MGB had never been approved.
Plaintiffs’ claims were not caused by Sikorsky’s communication
with the FAA; the helicopter could not have been flown legally
whether the FAA was informed or not. And none of these facts
demonstrates that Sikorsky purposefully availed itself of the
“privilege of conducting activities within the forum State, thus
invoking the benefits and protections of its laws[.]” Hanson[, 357
U.S. at 253].
ECF 19 at 14-15 (footnote omitted).
The Court finds that Plaintiffs have sufficiently shown at this stage of the litigation,
without considering the merits of the lawsuit, that but for the activities of Sikorsky’s Robert F.
Bellone and SCS’s Gary Tate in providing advice and direction to Plaintiffs and the FAA in
Oregon, the damages that Plaintiffs allege would not have occurred. Thus, Plaintiffs have met
their burden at step two of the applicable three-part test. Finally, at the third step, the Defendant
must come forward with a compelling case that the exercise of jurisdiction would not be
reasonable. Boschetto, 539 F.3d at 1016. Defendant has not done so.
Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction (ECF 8) is DENIED.
The parties are directed to confer regarding an appropriate case management schedule for this
matter and to file not later than June 8, 2017, either a proposed stipulated case management
schedule or each parties’ respective proposed schedule.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
DATED this 23rd day of May, 2017.
/s/ Michael H. Simon
Michael H. Simon
United States District Judge
PAGE 24 – OPINION AND ORDER
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