94 F.3d 586 (9th Cir. 1996), 94-16368, American Tel. & Tel. Co. v. Compagnie Bruxelles Lambert
|Citation:||94 F.3d 586|
|Party Name:||26 Envtl. , 96 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 6407, 96 Daily Journal D.A.R. 10,543 AMERICAN TELEPHONE & TELEGRAPH COMPANY, Defendant-Third-Party-Plaintiff-Appellant, v. COMPAGNIE BRUXELLES LAMBERT, now known as Groupe Bruxelles Lambert S.A., et al., Third-Party-Defendant-Appellee.|
|Case Date:||August 28, 1996|
|Court:||United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit|
Argued and Submitted Dec. 7, 1995.
E. Robert Wright, Thomas, Snell, Jamison, Russell and Asperger, Fresno, California, for defendant-third-party-plaintiff-appellant.
Jeffrey S. Koenig and Bruce G. Merritt, Debevoise & Plimpton, Los Angeles, California, for defendant-third-party-defendant-appellee.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, Robert E. Coyle, Chief District Judge, Presiding. D.C. No. CV-92-05202-REC.
Before: BROWNING, CANBY and HALL, Circuit Judges.
JAMES R. BROWNING, Circuit Judge:
AT&T appeals the dismissal of its CERCLA claim against Groupe Bruxelles Lambert, S.A. ("GBL"), the former parent corporation of a company whose operations caused environmental contamination at a site near Bakersfield, California. AT&T contends the district court erred by finding GBL was not
subject to personal jurisdiction. 1 We have jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291, and affirm.
This appeal stems from CERCLA litigation regarding a metal reclamation facility operated by defendant Keystone Resources, Inc. ("Keystone"). Keystone's Bakersfield facility, which treated and disposed of metal for AT&T, operated on land leased from plaintiff John Chrisman. Defendant GBL, a Belgian holding company, indirectly owned 80 percent of Keystone's stock. AT&T contends this ownership interest, coupled with GBL's alleged "total control" over Keystone, establishes personal jurisdiction over GBL.
GBL has its principal place of business in Brussels, conducts no business in the United States and had no direct involvement in operating the Bakersfield reclamation facility. GBL's wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary, the Lambert Brussels Group ("LBC"), bought 80 percent of Keystone's stock in 1976. 2 Keystone began losing money and GBL directed LBC to sell its Keystone stock. In March 1984 LBC sold its shares back to Keystone for nominal consideration.
In March 1992, Chrisman sued Keystone and AT&T, among others, alleging Keystone's operations had resulted in the release of cadmium, copper, lead, and dioxin and seeking to recover cleanup costs pursuant to CERCLA, 42 U.S.C. §§ 9607 and 9613. AT&T filed a third-party complaint against GBL. Because of GBL's prior ownership of Keystone, AT&T alleged GBL was directly liable under CERCLA § 9607(a) as a former site operator. AT&T also alleged GBL was liable because of its control over Keystone and Keystone's management. 3
After being served with process in Belgium, GBL filed a motion to dismiss for want of personal jurisdiction. The district court granted the motion. This appeal followed.
Personal jurisdiction may be general or specific. AT&T does not contend GBL is subject to general jurisdiction but only to specific jurisdiction, which allows a court to adjudicate claims that arise out of the defendant's contacts with the forum. Wells Fargo & Co. v. Wells Fargo Express Co., 556 F.2d 406, 413 (9th Cir.1977). As the party seeking to invoke federal jurisdiction, AT&T has the burden of establishing its existence. Fields v. Sedgwick Assoc. Risks, Ltd., 796 F.2d 299, 301 (9th Cir.1986); Data Disc, Inc. v. Systems Tech. Assocs., Inc., 557 F.2d 1280, 1285 (9th Cir.1977).
We decide de novo whether jurisdiction was lacking. Ziegler v. Indian River County, 64 F.3d 470, 473 (9th Cir.1995). However, because "the trial court ruled on the issue relying on affidavits and discovery materials without holding an evidentiary hearing, dismissal is appropriate only if the plaintiff has not made a prima facie showing of personal jurisdiction." Fields, 796 F.2d at 301. In determining whether AT&T has met this burden, uncontroverted allegations in AT&T's complaint must be taken as true, and "conflicts between the facts contained in the parties' affidavits must be resolved in [AT&T's] favor for purposes of deciding whether a prima facie case for personal jurisdiction exists." WNS, Inc. v. Farrow, 884
GBL submitted affidavits from Rene Van Achter, a GBL employee who sat on Keystone's board of directors, stating that GBL conducted no business in the United States and had no direct involvement in operating Keystone's Bakersfield facility, and that no GBL or LBC employee was involved in Keystone's day-to-day affairs. GBL's indirect ownership of Keystone stock involved no contacts with California; Van Achter attended no meetings in California, and communications with Keystone typically took place...
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