762 F.2d 290 (3rd Cir. 1985), 84-1024, Max Daetwyler Corp. v. R. Meyer

Docket Nº:84-1024.
Citation:762 F.2d 290
Party Name:226 U.S.P.Q. 305 MAX DAETWYLER CORP., A New York Corporation, v. R. MEYER, A West German Corporation. Appeal of Rolf MEYER.
Case Date:May 22, 1985
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
 
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Page 290

762 F.2d 290 (3rd Cir. 1985)

226 U.S.P.Q. 305

MAX DAETWYLER CORP., A New York Corporation,

v.

R. MEYER, A West German Corporation.

Appeal of Rolf MEYER.

No. 84-1024.

United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit

May 22, 1985

Argued Nov. 1, 1984.

Rehearing and Rehearing In Banc Denied June 17, 1985.

As Amended June 18, 1985.

Page 291

Peter T. Cobrin (Argued), Stempler & Cobrin, New York City, for appellant.

Manny D. Pokotilow (Argued), Caesar, Rivise, Bernstein & Cohen, Ltd., Philadelphia, Pa., for appellee.

Before GARTH and SLOVITER, Circuit Judges, and BARRY, District Judge. [*]

OPINION

GARTH, Circuit Judge:

This appeal comes to us as a certified question pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1292(b). We are asked to decide whether personal jurisdiction over an alien defendant, who is being sued on a claim arising under federal law, may be founded on the alien's aggregated contacts with the United States, regardless of the sufficiency of his contacts with the state in which the district court sits.

We hold that in the absence of a governing federal statute providing for nationwide service of process, in personam jurisdiction may not rest upon an alien's aggregated national contacts. We also hold that personal jurisdiction in Pennsylvania may not be obtained under the Pennsylvania long-arm statute, 42 Pa.Cons.Stat.Ann. Sec. 5322 (Purdon 1981).

I.

Max Daetwyler Corporation is a New York corporation that manufactures and sells doctor blades. Doctor blades are devices with reduced thickness edges used to wipe excess ink from the printing surfaces of a rotogavure printing form. Daetwyler commenced this patent infringement action in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against Rolf Meyer, a West German citizen doing business as a sole proprietor. Meyer manufactures and sells reduced thickness edge doctor blades.

The manufacture of Meyer blades takes place in Germany and the blades are thereafter sold in the United States by an independent

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American distributor, Henry P. Korn of New York. Sales of Meyer blades are also made by Uddeholm Corporation, a Delaware corporation which Daetwyler alleges acts as a middleman or distributor for Meyer. Uddeholm takes title to the blades in West Germany, warehouses them in Cleveland, and ships them from there to domestic customers. On occasion, Uddeholm instructs Meyer to ship doctor blades directly to American customers, but no such direct shipments have been sent by Meyer to Pennsylvania.

Meyer initially moved to dismiss this action for lack of in personam jurisdiction. Meyer contended that he had never been to Pennsylvania, had no affiliating contacts with Pennsylvania, and had never done business in Pennsylvania. Daetwyler argued that jurisdiction over Meyer was properly asserted on the basis of both the "transacting business" provision of the Pennsylvania long arm statute, 42 Pa.Cons.Stat.Ann. Sec. 5322(a)(1) (Purdon 1981) 1, and the totality of Meyer's contacts with the United States as a whole. Although the district court concluded that Meyer had insufficient contacts with Pennsylvania to support personal jurisdiction founded on the state long-arm statute, it nonetheless held that Meyer's aggregate national contacts yielded personal jurisdiction to determine a federal claim asserted against an alien defendant. See Max Daetwyler Corp. v. R. Meyer, 560 F.Supp. 869, 870 (E.D.Pa.1983).

Upon motion by Meyer, the district court certified the question of in personam jurisdiction for appeal to this court. See Max Daetwyler Corp. v. R. Meyer, 575 F.Supp. 280 (E.D.Pa.1983). We, in turn, granted Meyer's petition for leave to appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1292(b). 2

II.

The issue before this court is whether, in the enforcement of claims arising under federal law, a federal court is bound to follow the particular jurisdictional principles

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of the state in which it sits or whether it is free to develop a federal test of amenability to suit. The question is, in effect, one of the proper influence of the source of law--state or federal--in determining the bases for the personal jurisdiction in the federal courts.

The central concern of a jurisdictional inquiry is the relationship among the defendant, the forum, and the litigation. See International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316, 66 S.Ct. 154, 158, 90 L.Ed. 95 (1945); Shaffer v. Heitner, 433 U.S. 186, 209, 97 S.Ct. 2569, 2582, 53 L.Ed.2d 683 (1977). Because personal jurisdiction necessarily addresses both the power of the court to create or affect legal interests and the rules of competence whereby adjudicatory authority is asserted, it is tested against both constitutional and statutory standards. See World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 298 (1980); Stabilisierungsfonds Fur Wein v. Kaiser Stuhl Wine Distributors, 647 F.2d 200, 203 (D.C.Cir.1981); Restatement (Second) of Conflict of Laws, Ch. 3, Introductory Note at 100-03 (1971).

In general, a court, confronted with a question of the sufficiency of a defendant's contacts with the forum state, would look to the state's long-arm statute and then determine whether the exercise of jurisdiction would satisfy due process. In Pennsylvania, whose jurisdictional statute expressly incorporates the federal due process standard, the inquiry is principally one into the constitutional propriety of the exercise of jurisdiction. See Van Buskirk v. Carey Canadian Mines, Ltd., 760 F.2d 481, 489 (3d Cir.1985). While normally we consider constitutional issues only after considering statutory arguments, see Hagans v. Lavine, 415 U.S. 528, 543, 94 S.Ct. 1372, 1382, 39 L.Ed.2d 577 (1974), we are here presented with an issue where statutory and constitutional considerations are intertwined. Indeed, because of the nature of the national contacts theory, which seeks to redefine the area of minimum contacts sufficient to satisfy due process and hence to provide a federal test of amenability to suit, a greater importance attaches to the due process inquiry at the very outset.

A.

Because this action arises under the patent laws, the due process clause of the fifth amendment guides the constitutional branch of the jurisdictional inquiry. See DeJames v. Magnificence Carriers, Inc., 654 F.2d 280, 283 (3d Cir.1981). The fifth amendment has been construed to impose a general fairness test incorporating International Shoe's requirement that "certain minimum contacts" exist between the non-resident defendant and the forum "such that maintenance of the suit does not offend 'traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.' " International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316, 66 S.Ct. 154, 158, 90 L.Ed. 95 (1945); see also Honeywell, Inc. v. Metz Apparatewerke, 509 F.2d 1137, 1143 (7th Cir.1975); Fraley v. Chesapeake & Ohio Railway, 397 F.2d 1, 4 (3d Cir.1968).

In the present case, it is the situs of the requisite minimum contacts that is at issue. Daetwyler argues that because a federal question is raised, a national contacts theory should inform the exercise of the court's jurisdiction. Under the national contacts theory, the proper inquiry in determining personal jurisdiction in a case involving federal rights is one directed to the totality of a defendant's contacts throughout the United States. See Edward J. Moriarty & Co. v. General Tire & Rubber Co., 289 F.Supp. 381, 390 (S.D.Ohio 1967) ("the appropriate inquiry to be made in a federal court where the suit is based upon a federally created right is whether the defendant has certain minimal contacts with the United States...."); see also First Flight Co. v. National Carloading Corp., 209 F.Supp. 730, 736 (E.D.Tenn.1962) ("One fundamental principle of the Anglo-American law of jurisdiction is that a sovereignty has personal jurisdiction over any defendant within its territorial limits, and that it may exercise that jurisdiction by any of its courts able to obtain service upon the defendant.") The hallmark of the theory is that "it is not the territory in which a

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court sits that determines the extent of its jurisdiction, but rather the geographical limits of the unit of government of which the court is a part." Cryomedics, Inc. v. Spembly, Ltd., 397 F.Supp. 287, 291 (D.Conn.1975); see also Centronics Data Computer Corp. v. Mannesmann, A.G., 432 F.Supp. 659, 663-64 & n. 1 (D.N.H.1977); Holt v. Klosters Rederi A/S, 355 F.Supp. 354, 357 (W.D.Mich.1973); Alco Standard Corp. v. Benalal, 345 F.Supp. 14 (E.D.Pa.1972).

To aggregate the national contacts of an alien defendant in order to obtain personal jurisdiction may be neither unfair nor unreasonable when assessed by fifth amendment standards. 3 Although the minimum contacts test established by International Shoe is itself a fairness inquiry, the scope of that inquiry necessarily acknowledges that the constitutionality of a state's assertion of in personam jurisdiction reflects territorial limitations on the power of an individual state. 4 Those strictures of fourteenth amendment due process analysis which attempt to prevent encroachment by one state upon the sovereignty of another do not apply with equal force to the adjudication of a federal claim in a federal court. See Hanson v. Denckla, 357 U.S. 235, 257, 78 S.Ct. 1228, 1241, 2 L.Ed.2d 1283 (Restrictions on state jurisdiction "are more than a guarantee of immunity for inconvenience or distant litigation. They are a consequence of territorial limitations on the power of the respective States.") Nor, unless state boundaries are themselves deemed to correspond to areas of fundamental fairness, should an alien defendant's preference for a particular state as a more or less convenient forum generally rise to the level of a constitutional objection. 5

In the...

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