631 F.2d 6 (2nd Cir. 1980), 1205, Braman v. Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital

Docket Nº:1205, Docket 80-7165.
Citation:631 F.2d 6
Party Name:Daniel F. BRAMAN, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. MARY HITCHCOCK MEMORIAL HOSPITAL and Hitchcock Clinic, Inc., Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:September 02, 1980
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

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631 F.2d 6 (2nd Cir. 1980)

Daniel F. BRAMAN, Plaintiff-Appellant,




No. 1205, Docket 80-7165.

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

September 2, 1980

Argued May 23, 1980.

Jerome I. Meyers, Ascutney, Vermont, for plaintiff-appellant.

Black & Plante, White River Junction, Vermont (Garfield H. Miller, Hughes, Miller & Candon, Norwich, Vermont, on brief), for defendants-appellees.

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Before OAKES and MESKILL, Circuit Judges, and SAND, District Judge. [*]

OAKES, Circuit Judge:

This appeal in a diversity action is from a dismissal for lack of jurisdiction over the defendants. Plaintiff, Daniel Braman, injured his hand at his place of employment in Hartland, Vermont, and was taken by his employer to the emergency medical treatment facilities of the defendants, Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital (the Hospital) and Hitchcock Clinic, Inc. (the Clinic), two New Hampshire corporations located in Hanover, New Hampshire. After treatment there, Braman brought an action for malpractice, which was dismissed by the United States District Court for the District of Vermont, James S. Holden, Chief Judge, under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2), for lack of personal jurisdiction over the Hospital and Clinic. The district court dismissed the suit because there was no showing that the cause of action arose from the contacts or activities asserted as grounds for jurisdiction. The court did not reach the question whether the Hospital and Clinic had contacts with Vermont that warranted taking jurisdiction over them despite a lack of any relation between those contacts and the present action. We reverse and remand for a hearing on the issue of whether their activities in the state are sufficient to make them subject to its jurisdiction.

The question whether a defendant's activities would support Vermont's exercise of jurisdiction is one of state law. Arrowsmith v. United Press International, 320 F.2d 219, 229 (2d Cir. 1963) (en banc). Under V.R.C.P. 4(e) 1 plaintiff served a summons and complaint on appellees Hospital and Clinic in the State of New Hampshire. Rule 4(e) incorporates the language of one of Vermont's two "long-arm" statutes, Vt.Stat.Ann. tit. 12, § 913(b), 2 which was enacted in 1968 in response to the State Supreme Court's invitation in Avery v. Bender, 124 Vt. 309, 313, 204 A.2d 314, 316-17 (1964). The law provides for suit against a party served out of state who has, or to whom may be imputed contacts or activities within the state "sufficient to support a personal judgment against him." As the Reporter's notes to V.R.C.P. 4(e) indicate, "(t)he statute reaches to the outer limits permitted by the due process clause."

The district court evidently assumed that service had been made by virtue of a different provision, Vt.Stat.Ann. tit. 12, § 855, 3 an "alternative" 4 long-arm statute.

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This section permits service upon the Secretary of State in lieu of service out of state upon a foreign corporation, again to the "outer limits" permitted by the due process clause, but with the single limitation that process may be served only "in any action or proceedings against it arising or growing out of that contact or activity" which supports Vermont's assertion of jurisdiction. In the instant case, in which service was made directly upon the corporation, plaintiff's claim for relief did not arise out of any contacts that defendants have with Vermont.

The district court correctly considered itself to be bound by the state court construction of the long-arm statute. Deveny v. Rheem Manufacturing Co., 319 F.2d 124, 127 (2d Cir. 1963); 4 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure, Civil § 1068, at 246 (1969). Correctly interpreting the Vermont cases the district court found that they required the "arising or growing out of" element to sustain jurisdiction under the alternate long-arm statute, Vt.Stat.Ann. tit. 12, § 855. The Vermont opinions, however, evidently proceeded on the basis of a misapprehension that due process demands such a nexus between the contacts and the cause of action. Huey v. Bates, 135 Vt. 160, 163-64, 375 A.2d 987, 990 (1977); Davis v. Saab Scania of America, Inc., 133 Vt. 317, 321, 339 A.2d 456, 458-59 (1975). Although this impression of due process requirements was also conveyed by a panel of this court, Deveny v. Rheem Manufacturing Co., 319 F.2d at 127, a Supreme Court decision subsequent to International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 66 S.Ct. 154, 90 L.Ed. 95 (1945), namely Perkins v. Benguet Consolidated Mining Co., 342 U.S. 437, 72 S.Ct. 413, 96 L.Ed. 485 (1952), took the position that jurisdiction can be asserted even though the cause of action is unrelated to the defendant's activities in the forum state provided that the activities are sufficiently continuing and substantial to make the assertion of jurisdiction reasonable, id. at 446-48, 72 S.Ct. at 418-19. See 4 C. Wright & A. Miller, supra, Civil § 1069, at 261-62; Restatement (Second) of Conflict of Laws § 47 (1971); von Mehren & Trautman, Jurisdiction to Adjudicate: A Suggested Analysis, 79 Harv.L.Rev. 1121, 1142-44 (1966); Developments in the Law, State-Court Jurisdiction, 73 Harv.L.Rev. 909, 932 (1960); Comment, Long-Arm and Quasi in Rem Jurisdiction and the Fundamental Test of Fairness, 69 Mich.L.Rev. 300, 307 (1970). See also Arrowsmith v. United Press International, 320 F.2d 219, 233 n.20 (interpreting Perkins v. Benguet Consolidated Mining Co. as a case in which the "quantum of corporate activity was exceptionally large").

Thus the critical question for our purposes is whether the long-arm statute under which jurisdiction is claimed, Vt.Stat.Ann. tit. 12, § 913(b),...

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