233 F.3d 538 (8th Cir. 2000), 00-1009, Clune v. Alimark AB

Docket Nº:00-1009
Citation:233 F.3d 538
Case Date:December 01, 2000
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Page 538

233 F.3d 538 (8th Cir. 2000)





No. 00-1009

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

December 1, 2000

Submitted: September 12, 2000

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

Page 539

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Before Wollman, Chief Judge, Lay and Bright, Circuit Judges.

Lay, Circuit Judge

In February 1996, Joseph Clune was working at a construction site in Kansas City, Missouri, for his employer, J.E. Dunn, when he fell from a construction hoist through an unenclosed area on top of the work platform. 1 He died as a result of the fall. The hoist was manufactured by Linden-Alimak AB, a Swedish corporation that designed and manufactured construction hoists and other lifts. Industrivarden Service AB ("Industrivarden") is one of two successor companies of Alimak AB. Industrivarden is a shell corporation that has no employees and does not manufacture or sell equipment. For purposes of this suit, the company exists to handle the liabilities of Linden-Alimak AB/Alimak AB. Linden-Alimak AB sold the hoist F.O.B. Swedish port to Esco Corporation ("Esco") in 1972. At the time, Esco maintained an office in Oregon and imported the hoist into the United States via Seattle, Washington.

Carol Clune, Paul Clune, and Kelly Clune ("the Clunes"), the wife and children of the decedent, brought a wrongful death suit against Industrivarden. The district court granted Industrivarden's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. On appeal, the Clunes argue that the exercise of personal jurisdiction in this case falls under the Missouri long-arm statute and comports with the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The district court held that Industrivarden, a Swedish corporation, did not have sufficient minimum contacts with Missouri during the relevant time period to satisfy constitutional personal jurisdiction standards.

We reverse.


During the years Linden-Alimak AB/Alimak AB 2 was in business, it used distributors within the United States to sell its products in the United States. From approximately 1960 to 1970, B.M. Heede ("Heede"), a Connecticut corporation, was the exclusive distributor for Linden-Alimak AB. From 1970 to 1974, the company used two distributors for its product: Oregon-based Esco sold the hoists in thirteen western states, while Heede sold the equipment in the rest of the country, including Missouri. Both distributors also sold other manufacturers' products. 3

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When Linden-Alimak AB became Alimak AB in 1983, its American subsidiary followed suit and became Alimak, Inc. 4 Alimak, Inc. continued to be the exclusive United States distributor for its Swedish parent. 5 As a result of its relationships with these distributors, approximately 700 of Linden-Alimak AB/Alimak AB's construction hoists were sold in the United States by 1986. Between twenty and forty of those hoists were sold in Missouri.

The district court found that Industrivarden was not subject to personal jurisdiction in Missouri because the company's activities were not sufficiently targeted to that state. First, the court denied jurisdiction on the stream of commerce theory, finding that Linden-Alimak AB/Alimak AB did not purposefully avail itself of the privilege of conducting business in Missouri. Second, the court failed to find jurisdiction over Linden-Alimak AB/Alimak AB based on the activities of its subsidiary, Alimak, Inc. Because it did not find sufficient minimum contacts, the district court did not consider whether exercising personal jurisdiction would comport with fair play and substantial justice under the Due Process Clause.

We review a dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction de novo. See Stevens v. Red Wing, 146 F.3d 538, 543 (8th Cir. 1998). To successfully challenge a dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction, the plaintiff must make a prima facie showing that jurisdiction is proper. See id.

We apply a two-part test to the jurisdictional issue. First, whether the forum state's long-arm statute is satisfied, and second, whether the exercise of jurisdiction comports with due process. See id.


The Missouri long-arm statute confers jurisdiction over nonresidents who commit tortious acts within the state. See Mo. Rev. Stat. 506.500.1(3) (2000 Supp.). The Missouri Supreme Court has declared that when the Missouri legislature enacted the long-arm statute, its "ultimate objective was to extend the jurisdiction of the courts of this state over nonresident defendants to that extent permissible under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States." State v. Pinnell, 454 S.W.2d 889, 892 (Mo.1970) (en banc). Accordingly, Missouri courts have interpreted the statute broadly to cover those cases where the Due Process Clause permits the assertion of personal jurisdiction. See State v. Wiesman, 627 S.W.2d 874, 876 (Mo.1982) (en banc) (citations omitted). Thus, the critical factor in our analysis is whether the exercise of personal jurisdiction in this case comports with due process.

The Due Process Clause establishes the parameters of a state's power to assert personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant. See Helicopteros Nacionales De Columbia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 413-14 (1984). Due process requires that the defendant "have certain 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.

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Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945) (quoting Milliken v. Meyer, 311 U.S. 457, 463 (1941)). The Supreme Court has rejected "talismanic" formulas to personal jurisdiction. See Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 485 (1985). Rather, we must carefully consider the facts of each case to assess the nature of the contacts between the defendant and the forum state. See id. at 486. The factors we weigh include:

the burden on the defendant, the interests of the forum state in adjudicating the dispute, the plaintiff's interest in obtaining convenient and effective relief, the interstate judicial system's interest in obtaining the most efficient resolution of controversies, and the shared interest of the several states in furthering fundamental substantive social policies.

Falkirk Mining Co. v. Japan Steel Works, Ltd., 906 F.2d 369, 374 (8th Cir. 1990) (citing Asahi Metal Indust. Co. v. Superior Court, 480 U.S. 102, 113 (1987) (part II.B., joined by eight Justices)). See also Aaron Ferer & Sons Co. v. Diversified Metals Corp., 564 F.2d 1211, 1215 (8th Cir. 1977) (reciting factors to consider in determining whether due process is satisfied: nature and quality of defendant's contacts with the forum state; quantity of contacts; relation of the cause of action to those contacts; interest of the forum state in providing a forum for its residents; and convenience of the parties).

The baseline for minimum contacts is "some act by which the defendant purposefully avails itself of the privilege of conducting activities within the forum State, thus invoking the benefits and protections of its laws." Burger King, 471 U.S. at 475 (quoting Hanson v. Denckla, 357 U.S. 235, 253 (1958)). The defendant's contact with the forum state must be such that he or she "should...

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