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Andrews v. Mazda Motor Corporation

United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division

April 22, 2015

JAMIE LEE ANDREWS, Plaintiff,
v.
MAZDA MOTOR CORPORATION, MAZDA MOTOR OF AMERICA, INC., AUTOLIV, INC., AUTOLIV ASP, INC., AUTOLIV AB, AUTOLIV JAPAN, LTD., AUTOLIV SAFETY TECHNOLOGY, INC., ROBERT BOSCH GmbH, ROBERT BOSCH LLC, ROBERT BOSCH NORTH AMERICA CORPORATION, BOSCH CORPORATION, and JOHN DOES 1-5 Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

WILLIAM S. DUFFEY, Jr., District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Defendant Bosch Corporation's ("Bosch Corporation") Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff Jamie Lee Andrews' ("Plaintiff") Complaint for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction [27], and Plaintiff's Motion for Extension of Time, under Rule 6 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, to File Response to Bosch Corporation's Motion to Dismiss, and Plaintiff's Motion for Jurisdictional Discovery [38].

I. BACKGROUND

A. Facts

On September 18, 2014, Plaintiff filed a product liability Complaint, in the State Court of Fulton County, Georgia, against Defendants Mazda Motor Corporation, Mazda Motor of America, Inc. (collectively the "Mazda Defendants"), Autoliv, Inc., Autoliv ASP Inc., Autoliv AB, Autoliv Japan Limited, Autoliv Safety Technology Inc., Autoliv LLC, Autoliv North America, Inc. (collectively the "Autoliv Defendants"), Robert Bosch LLC, Robert Bosch North America Corporation, Robert Bosch Motor Systems Corporation, Bosch Corporation ("Bosch Defendants") and John Does 1-5 (collectively "Defendants"). On October 24, 2014, the Defendants removed the State Court action to the Court.

Plaintiff is the Administrator of the Estate of Micah Lee Andrews. On April 12, 2013, Micah Lee Andrews' 2005 Mazda 3 veered off the highway in Cobb County, Georgia, and crashed into a cluster of trees. He did not survive the accident. Plaintiff alleges that Micah Lee Andrews died because of a defective airbag that failed to deploy during the collision, and a defective seatbelt that failed to restrain him before his head slammed into the steering wheel of the 2005 Mazda 3. Plaintiff claims that the Mazda Defendants negligently designed, built and sold the 2005 Mazda 3, and the Autoliv Defendants negligently manufactured, marketed and sold the seatbelt system and airbag components. Plaintiff alleges that the Bosch Defendants negligently designed, tested, manufactured, marketed and sold the airbag system installed in the vehicle.[1]

Defendant Bosch Corporation is a Japanese corporation with its principal place of business in Tokyo, Japan. Defendant Robert Bosch GmbH ("RB GmbH") is a German limited liability company with its principal place of business in Gerlingen-Schillerhöhe, Germany. Defendant Robert Bosch North America Corporation ("RBNA"), a wholly owned subsidiary of RB GmbH, is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Defendant Robert Bosch LLC ("RB LLC") is a limited liability company with its principal place of business in Farmington Hills, Michigan, and wholly owned by RBNA.[2]

B. Procedural History

On November 28, 2014, Defendant Bosch Corporation moved to dismiss the Complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction on the grounds that it does not have sufficient minimum contacts with Georgia to satisfy Georgia's long-arm statute and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In support of its Motion to Dismiss, Bosch Corporation submitted the sworn declaration of its General Counsel, Yuichi Ikeda, in which Mr. Ikeda states that Bosch Corporation does not (1) maintain a place of business in Georgia, (2) purchase, market, or sell goods and services to customers in Georgia, (3) lease or own any real or personal property in Georgia, (4) maintain a registered agent in Georgia, (5) employ agents, representatives or employees in Georgia or (6) maintain a telephone number, mailing address, bank account or taxpayer identification number in Georgia. See First Declaration of Yuichi Ikeda at ¶¶ 3-9.

On December 16, 2014, Plaintiff moved for an extension of time to respond to Bosch Corporation's Motion to Dismiss the Complaint, and contemporaneously responded to Bosch Corporation's Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiff also moved, in the alternative, to conduct jurisdictional discovery.[3] Plaintiff argues that the Court may exercise personal jurisdiction over Bosch Corporation under the long-arm statute and federal due process standards because "Bosch" transacts business within Georgia, regularly conducts or solicits business in Georgia, and derives substantial revenue from goods used or consumed or services rendered in Georgia. Plaintiff relies on various publicly available materials, generally from the internet, to support her arguments.

On January 12, 2015, Bosch Corporation replied to the Plaintiff's Response, submitting a second declaration from Mr. Ikeda in support of its Motion. In the second declaration, Mr. Ikeda explains that many of the activities that Plaintiff attributes to Bosch Corporation are, in fact, conducted by its subsidiaries or affiliates, including RB GmbH and RB LLC. Second Declaration of Yuichi Ikeda at ¶¶ 5-9. Mr. Ikeda reiterates that Bosch Corporation does not target or direct business activities in Georgia, and specifically states that Bosch Corporation "does not have a strategy to obtain revenue from the sale of products or services in Georgia, " and it does not "purchase, sell, promote, or demonstrate goods or services to customers or other persons in Georgia or engage in any other activities in Georgia." Id. at ¶¶ 3-4.

On January 26, 2014, Plaintiff replied to Bosch Corporation's Response to Plaintiff's request for jurisdictional discovery. Plaintiff contends that jurisdictional discovery is warranted based on certain statements made by Herbert Hemming, Bosch Corporation's President, in articles and at professional seminars. For example, Plaintiff relies on Mr. Hemming's statements that (i) Bosch Corporation supplies major American brands with its products (ii) "basically no car in the world runs without Bosch components, " and (iii) Bosch Corporation's engineers in Japan collaborate with its global subsidiaries and affiliates to tailor its products to the tastes and preferences of the local market. Pl.'s Reply to Bosch Corporation's Resp. to Pl.'s Mot. for Jurisdictional Discovery at 6. Plaintiff also states that Bosch Corporation has, in the past, sent representatives to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. Plaintiff argues, on these facts, that "the statements by the Defendant itself confirm what would be irrefutable: Bosch Corporation is subject to jurisdiction because it designs, sells, and markets its components for sale in the United States." Id. at 10.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Legal Standard

A plaintiff must allege sufficient facts in her complaint to make out a prima facie case of personal jurisdiction over a defendant. Diamond Crystal Brands, Inc. v. Food Movers Int'l, Inc., 593 F.3d 1249, 1257-58 (11th Cir. 2010) (quoting United Techs. Corp. v. Mazer, 556 F.3d 1260, 1274 (11th Cir. 2009)). If the plaintiff makes a prima facie showing of personal jurisdiction, the defendant may challenge the jurisdictional allegations by presenting evidence. See id. After jurisdictional evidence is presented by a defendant, "the burden traditionally shifts back to the plaintiff to produce evidence supporting jurisdiction." Id. (quoting United Techs., 556 F.3d at 1274); accord Meier ex rel. Meier v. Sun Int'l Hotels, Ltd., 288 F.3d 1264, 1269 (11th Cir. 2002). Where there are conflicts between the ...


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