633 N.W.2d 408 (Mich.App. 2001), 220485, Oberlies v. Searchmont Resort, Inc.

Docket Nº:Docket No. 220485.
Citation:633 N.W.2d 408, 246 Mich.App. 424
Opinion Judge:ZAHRA, J.
Party Name:Jennifer OBERLIES, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. SEARCHMONT RESORT, INC., d/b/a, Searchmont Resort, Defendant-Appellee.
Attorney:Thomas, DeGrood, Witenoff & Hoffman (by Gary N. Felty, Jr., and John J. Hoffman) (Michelle A. Thomas, of Counsel), Southfield, for the defendant.
Judge Panel:[246 Mich.App. 426] Before O'CONNELL, P.J., and ZAHRA and B.B. MACKENZIE [*], JJ.
Case Date:June 15, 2001
Court:Court of Appeals of Michigan

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633 N.W.2d 408 (Mich.App. 2001)

246 Mich.App. 424

Jennifer OBERLIES, Plaintiff-Appellant,


SEARCHMONT RESORT, INC., d/b/a, Searchmont Resort, Defendant-Appellee.

Docket No. 220485.

Court of Appeals of Michigan

June 15, 2001

Submitted Dec. 5, 2000, at Lansing.

Released for Publication Sept. 6, 2001.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 410

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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[246 Mich.App. 425] Beier Howlett, P.C. (by Richard A. Joslin, Jr.), Bloomfield Hills, for the plaintiff.

Thomas, DeGrood, Witenoff & Hoffman (by Gary N. Felty, Jr., and John J. Hoffman) (Michelle A. Thomas, of Counsel), Southfield, for the defendant.

[246 Mich.App. 426] Before O'CONNELL, P.J., and ZAHRA and B.B. MACKENZIE [*], JJ.


Plaintiff appeals as of right from the trial court's order granting summary disposition for defendant pursuant to MCR 2.116(C)(1) (lack of personal jurisdiction). We affirm.


Plaintiff visited defendant's ski facility, located north of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada, after seeing an advertisement for the facility in a Michigan newspaper. On February 9, 1997, plaintiff was allegedly injured when she was thrown to the ground as a result of being negligently loaded onto a ski lift operated by defendant's employees. The trial court granted summary disposition for defendant on the basis that the court lacked personal jurisdiction over defendant.


On appeal, plaintiff argues that the trial court has jurisdiction over defendant because defendant directed its marketing and advertising efforts toward Michigan residents. We review a trial court's decision on a motion for summary disposition de novo. Spiek v. Dep't of Transportation, 456 Mich. 331, 337, 572 N.W.2d 201 (1998). Likewise, whether a court has personal jurisdiction over a party is a question of law that is reviewed de novo on appeal. Poindexter v. Poindexter, 234 Mich.App. 316, 319, 594 N.W.2d 76 [246 Mich.App. 427] (1999) A plaintiff bears the burden of establishing jurisdiction over a defendant;

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however, the plaintiff need only make a prima facie showing of jurisdiction to defeat a motion for summary disposition. Jeffrey v. Rapid American Corp., 448 Mich. 178, 184, 529 N.W.2d 644 (1995). In reviewing a motion for summary disposition brought under MCR 2.116(C)(1), we consider the documentary evidence submitted by the parties in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Jeffrey, supra; Mozdy v. Lopez, 197 Mich.App. 356, 359-360, 494 N.W.2d 866 (1992).

Before a court may obligate a party to comply with its orders, the court must have in personam jurisdiction over the party. Jurisdiction over the person may be established by way of general personal jurisdiction or specific (limited) personal jurisdiction. See Jeffrey, supra, and Kircos v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 70 Mich.App. 612, 613-614, 247 N.W.2d 316 (1976). The exercise of general jurisdiction is possible when a defendant's contacts with the forum state are of such nature and quality as to enable a court to adjudicate an action against the defendant, even when the claim at issue does not arise out of the contacts with the forum. Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 414, n. 9, 415-416, 104 S.Ct. 1868, 80 L.Ed.2d 404 (1984). When a defendant's contacts with the forum state are insufficient to confer general jurisdiction, jurisdiction may be based on the defendant's specific acts or contacts with the forum. Witbeck v. Bill Cody's Ranch Inn, 428 Mich. 659, 665, 411 N.W.2d 439 (1987). Our Legislature has provided long-arm statutes to allow courts to take jurisdiction over nonresident corporations under theories of general and specific jurisdiction. MCL 600.711, 600.715. When [246 Mich.App. 428] analyzing whether it is proper to exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant, we must determine whether the defendant's conduct falls within a provision of a Michigan long-arm statute and whether the exercise of jurisdiction comports with due process. Green v. Wilson, 455 Mich. 342, 351, 565 N.W.2d 813 (1997); Aaronson v. Lindsay & Hauer Int'l Ltd., 235 Mich.App. 259, 262, 597 N.W.2d 227 (1999). Long-arm statutes delineate the nature, character, and types of contacts that must exist to exercise personal jurisdiction. Green, supra at 348, 565 N.W.2d 813. Due process restricts permissible long-arm jurisdiction by defining the quality of contacts necessary to justify the exercise of personal jurisdiction over a defendant. Id.

In the present case, defendant was not incorporated under the laws of Michigan, has not consented to jurisdiction in Michigan, and has not carried on a continuous and systematic part of its general business in this state. Defendant operates a ski facility in Canada and does not have any officer, employee, bank account, or place of business in Michigan. Therefore, defendant is not subject to the exercise of general personal jurisdiction, M.C.L. § 600.711, and we focus our attention on whether the circuit court has specific personal jurisdiction over defendant.

A. Specific Personal Jurisdiction Under M.C.L. § 600.715

Michigan's long-arm statute pertaining to limited personal jurisdiction over corporations provides:

The existence of any of the following relationships between a corporation or its agent and the state shall constitute a sufficient basis of jurisdiction to enable the courts of record of this state to exercise limited personal jurisdiction over such corporation and to enable such courts to [246 Mich.App. 429] render personal judgments against such corporation arising out of the act or acts which create any of the following relationships:

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(1) The transaction of any business within the state.

(2) The doing or causing any act to be done, or consequences to occur, in the state resulting in an action for tort.

(3) The ownership, use, or possession of any real or tangible personal property situated within the state.

(4) Contracting to insure any person, property, or risk located within this state at the time of contracting.

(5) Entering into a contract for services to be performed or for materials to be furnished in the state by the defendant. [MCL 600.715.]

Only subsection 1 can be said to apply to the circumstances of the present case. It is undisputed that defendant engaged in advertising in Michigan. There is no evidence that defendant had any other contact with the state of Michigan. Therefore, we must determine whether defendant's advertising constituted the "transaction of any business" under M.C.L. § 600.715(1).

Well-settled principles of statutory interpretation require us to look to the plain language of M.C.L. § 600.715(1) to determine whether defendant falls within the state's long-arm jurisdiction. See Elia v. Hazen, 242 Mich.App. 374, 381, 619 N.W.2d 1 (2000), and Walter v. M Walter & Co., Inc., 179 Mich.App. 409, 412, 446 N.W.2d 507 (1989). The primary goal of judicial interpretation of statutes is to ascertain and give effect to the Legislature's intent. Frankenmuth Mut. Ins. Co. v. Marlette Homes, Inc., 456 Mich. 511, 515, 573 N.W.2d 611 (1998). We may not speculate regarding the probable intent of the Legislature beyond the...

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