Amtrol, Inc. v. Vent-Rite Valve Corp., Civ. A. No. 85-0681-Y.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
Writing for the CourtYOUNG
Citation646 F. Supp. 1168
PartiesAMTROL, INC., Plaintiff, v. VENT-RITE VALVE CORP., Emerson-Swan, Inc., and Flamco, bv, Defendants.
Decision Date19 May 1986
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 85-0681-Y.

646 F. Supp. 1168

AMTROL, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
VENT-RITE VALVE CORP., Emerson-Swan, Inc., and Flamco, bv, Defendants.

Civ. A. No. 85-0681-Y.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts.

May 19, 1986.


646 F. Supp. 1169
COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED
646 F. Supp. 1170
Paul R. Gupta, Sherin and Lodgen, Boston, Mass., Michael S. Belohlavek, Marie V. Driscoll, Marla G. Simpson, Townley and Updike, New York City, Tom M. Schaumberg, Plaia & Schaumberg, Chartered, Washington, D.C., for plaintiffs

Terrence Leahy, Bruce D. Sokler, Jeffrey S. Robbins, Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, Boston, Mass., for defendants.

James F. Kavanaugh, Michael R. Godfried, Burns & Levinson, Boston, Mass., Michael L. Martell, Barry G. Magidoff, Abberley, Kooiman, Marcellino and Clay, New York City, for defendant FLAMCO.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

YOUNG, District Judge.

This is a dispute between participants in the plumbing and heating equipment industry. The plaintiff Amtrol, Inc. ("Amtrol") is a Rhode Island corporation engaged in the manufacture and distribution of various plumbing and heating products, including pre-pressurized expansion tanks and well tanks. The defendant Emerson-Swan, Inc. ("Emerson") is a Massachusetts corporation which serves as a manufacturer's representative in the plumbing and heating equipment industry. Emerson distributes, among other things, private label expansion tanks manufactured by others. The defendant Vent-Rite Valve Corporation ("Vent-Rite") is a Massachusetts corporation which manufactures steam and heat hot water valves. The same shareholders own Emerson and Vent-Rite, and throughout this opinion they will sometimes be referred to jointly as Emerson. The defendant Flamco, bv ("Flamco") is a Dutch corporation with its principal place of business in Holland. Flamco manufactures plumbing and heating equipment, including expansion tanks and well tanks. In 1984, Vent-Rite began to import expansion tanks which were manufactured in the Netherlands by Flamco. The imported tanks were distributed by Emerson in the New England states and New York.

On March 4, 1985 Amtrol filed a 32 count amended complaint in this Court alleging a variety of state and federal claims sounding in antitrust, trademark infringement, and unfair competition.1 Emerson and Vent-Rite answered by way of denial, and asserted an eight count counterclaim against Amtrol. Flamco did not answer Amtrol's complaint, but instead moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. Count II of Emerson's counterclaim alleges that Amtrol violated § 2 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 2, by monopolizing or attempting to monopolize the well tank market in the relevant geographic markets. Amtrol has moved to dismiss Count II of the counterclaim. Both motions are now before the Court, and they will be addressed in turn.

I. Personal Jurisdiction Over Flamco

This Court recently set forth the two step inquiry in which a court must engage to determine if it has jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant:

(1) Is the court authorized by either a federal or state statute to exercise jurisdiction? (2) Even if there is statutory authorization, does the defendant have the requisite minimum contacts with the jurisdiction so that the exercise of personal jurisdiction will comport with due process?

Buckeye Associates Ltd. v. Fila Sports, Inc., 616 F.Supp. 1434, 1437 (D.Mass.1985) (hereinafter "Buckeye"). Because Count I of Amtrol's complaint alleges a violation of the federal antitrust laws, Amtrol argues that the first part of the jurisdictional inquiry is satisfied by § 12 of the Clayton Act. The Court agrees.

Section 12 provides that:

646 F. Supp. 1171
Any suit, action or proceeding under the antitrust laws against a corporation may be brought not only in the judicial district whereof it is an inhabitant, but also in any district wherein it may be found or transacts business; and all process in such cases may be served in the district of which it is an inhabitant, or wherever it may be found.

15 U.S.C. § 12. By its terms, § 12 allows for worldwide service of process. Thus, the service upon Flamco in Holland was "effective" within the meaning of Rule 4(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.2 Effective service of process is the "vehicle by which the court may obtain jurisdiction." Aro Manufacturing Co. v. Automobile Body Research Corp., 352 F.2d 400, 402 (1st Cir.1965). Accordingly, whether this Court properly may exercise jurisdiction over Flamco, at least as to Count I, depends on whether maintenance of the suit comports with due process. International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316, 66 S.Ct. 154, 158, 90 L.Ed. 95 (1945); Insurance Corporation of Ireland, Ltd. v. Compagnie des Bauxite de Guinee, 456 U.S. 694, 702, 102 S.Ct. 2099, 2104, 72 L.Ed.2d 492 (1982).

The due process concerns implicated in a federal question case are those of the Fifth Amendment rather than the Fourteenth Amendment. Stanley Works v. Globemaster, Inc., 400 F.Supp. 1325, 1334 n. 13 (D.Mass.1975). In Buckeye this Court recognized that "as a general proposition, the Fifth Amendment would permit a federal court to exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant in a federal question case by looking to the defendant's aggregate contacts with the United States as a whole, without regard to the defendant's contacts with the forum state." Buckeye at 1438 n. 5. The Court went on to suggest, in dictum, that notwithstanding the latitude allowed by the Fifth Amendment the "better rule" in antitrust cases would be to analyze personal jurisdiction with reference to the state long arm statute. Id. at 1438 n. 5. Upon further consideration, the Court is of the view that its suggested "better rule" is not in keeping with the established law of this circuit. Instead, the Court holds that where jurisdiction is authorized by the Clayton Act, due process is satisfied when the defendant has the requisite minimum contacts with the United States as a whole.

In Driver v. Helms, 577 F.2d 147 (1st Cir.1978); rev'd on other grounds sub. nom., Stafford v. Briggs, 444 U.S. 527, 100 S.Ct. 774, 63 L.Ed.2d 1 (1980), the defendants were served pursuant to the nationwide service of process provision of 28 U.S.C. § 1391(c). The defendants argued, and the court assumed, that they lacked minimum contacts with Rhode Island, the forum state. Nonetheless, the court rejected the argument that the exercise of personal jurisdiction over the defendants violated due process. The court noted that Congress' jurisdiction was over the entire United States, and that the limitations imposed by the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment are "not related to state boundaries." Id. at 157. The minimum contacts analysis, which was developed to test the limits of state court jurisdiction, was not relevant because nationwide service of process "is not extraterritorial for a court of the United States." Id. at 157.

The First Circuit reaffirmed the holding of Driver in Johnson Creative Arts v. Wool Masters, 743 F.2d 947 (1st Cir.1984). There the plaintiff brought suit in Massachusetts to enjoin trademark violations under 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a). In appealing a district court dismissal of two New York defendants for improper venue, the plaintiff argued that "the test for `doing business' under the venue statute should be the same as for determining whether a corporation is amenable to service of process." Id. at 949. The Court of Appeals disagreed.

646 F. Supp. 1172
In explaining why it was unwilling to equate amenability to suit with proper venue, the court noted that "due process would allow a federal court in a federal question case to issue service of process nationwide, and does not require that the defendant have any contact with a particular district in order to be sued there." Id. at 950

From these and other cases, see e.g., Stafford v. Briggs, supra at 554, 100 S.Ct. at 789 (Stewart, J. dissenting) ("due process requires only certain minimum contacts between the defendant and the sovereign that has created the court"), it appears that it is the law in this circuit that where a defendant is served pursuant to a congressional authorization of worldwide service of process, due process requires only that the defendant's aggregate contacts with the United States as a whole are such that "maintenance of the suit does not offend `traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.'" International Shoe v. Washington, supra at 316, 66 S.Ct. at 158.3 Thus, Flamco is correct in asserting that the extraterritorial service in this case must be tested against the familiar "minimum contacts" analysis. However, the relevant forum is not Massachusetts, but rather the entire United States.

The affidavits and depositions now before the Court evidence a systematic pattern of contacts between Flamco and the United States. Since 1979, Flamco has succeeded in cultivating three corporate customers in the United States; Krueger Manufacturing Co. of Arizona ("Krueger"), Flair Manufacturing Corp. of New York ("Flair"), and Vent-Rite of Massachusetts.

Flamco's relationship with Krueger arose out of a September, 1982 trip to the United States by Flamco's export manager, Frank Cherry. During the five week period of that trip Cherry based his sales activities out of Houston. He spent three of those weekends at Krueger's facilities in Tucson, Arizona. During one of those weekends Cherry used Krueger's facilities to meet with 180 manufacturing agents from all over the country.

In December, 1982, Cherry returned to Tucson with Cornelius Nobel, Flamco's managing director, to negotiate a letter of intent between Flamco and Krueger. This letter of intent was signed by Cherry and a Krueger representative at a trade show in Atlantic City, New Jersey in January, 1983. The document indicated an intention to make Krueger the sole United States distributor of Flamco's pipe hanger system.

Although it appears that Flamco did not...

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21 practice notes
  • General Cigar Holdings, Inc. v. Altadis, S.A., No. 00-4187CIV.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Florida
    • June 12, 2002
    ...Page 1341 where service is not effected pursuant to that federal statute." Id.; see also Amtrol, Inc. v. Vent-Rite Valve Corp., 646 F.Supp. 1168, 1171 (D.Mass.1986) (finding the national contacts test appropriate based on § 12 of the Clayton Act because process was served on the alien ......
  • In re Acushnet River & New Bedford Harbor Proceed., Civ. A. No. 83-3882-Y.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • November 6, 1987
    ...so long as that defendant has "minimum contacts" with the United States as a whole. Amtrol, Inc. v. Vent-Rite Valve Corp., 646 F.Supp. 1168, 1172 (D.Mass.1986), citing Driver v. Helms, 577 F.2d 147, 156 (1st Cir.1978), rev'd on other grounds sub nom. Stafford v. Briggs, 444 U.S. 5......
  • Nahigian v. Leonard, No. CIV.A.02-11144-WGY.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • November 22, 2002
    ...Salpoglou v. Shlomo Widder, M.D., P.A., 899 F.Supp. 835, 838 (D.Mass.1995) (Lasker, J.); Amtrol, Inc. v. Vent-Rite Valve Corp., 646 F.Supp. 1168, 1174-76 (D.Mass.1986); cf. Olin Corp. v. Fisons PLC., 47 F.Supp.2d 151, 155 (D.Mass.1999) (noting that doctrine of pendent personal jurisdiction ......
  • Doe v. Unocal Corp., No. CV 96-6959 RAP (BQRX).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Central District of California
    • November 18, 1998
    ...service [is] effected under [the] Clayton Act § 12[.]" Go-Video, 885 F.2d at 1416 (citing Amtrol, Inc. v. Vent-Rite Valve Corp., 646 F.Supp. 1168, 1172 (D.Mass.1986)). Just as it would be unwise for a court to make its own rule authorizing service of summons, Omni, 484 U.S. at 109, 108......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
21 cases
  • General Cigar Holdings, Inc. v. Altadis, S.A., No. 00-4187CIV.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Florida
    • June 12, 2002
    ...Page 1341 where service is not effected pursuant to that federal statute." Id.; see also Amtrol, Inc. v. Vent-Rite Valve Corp., 646 F.Supp. 1168, 1171 (D.Mass.1986) (finding the national contacts test appropriate based on § 12 of the Clayton Act because process was served on the alien ......
  • In re Acushnet River & New Bedford Harbor Proceed., Civ. A. No. 83-3882-Y.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • November 6, 1987
    ...so long as that defendant has "minimum contacts" with the United States as a whole. Amtrol, Inc. v. Vent-Rite Valve Corp., 646 F.Supp. 1168, 1172 (D.Mass.1986), citing Driver v. Helms, 577 F.2d 147, 156 (1st Cir.1978), rev'd on other grounds sub nom. Stafford v. Briggs, 444 U.S. 5......
  • Nahigian v. Leonard, No. CIV.A.02-11144-WGY.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • November 22, 2002
    ...Salpoglou v. Shlomo Widder, M.D., P.A., 899 F.Supp. 835, 838 (D.Mass.1995) (Lasker, J.); Amtrol, Inc. v. Vent-Rite Valve Corp., 646 F.Supp. 1168, 1174-76 (D.Mass.1986); cf. Olin Corp. v. Fisons PLC., 47 F.Supp.2d 151, 155 (D.Mass.1999) (noting that doctrine of pendent personal jurisdiction ......
  • Doe v. Unocal Corp., No. CV 96-6959 RAP (BQRX).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Central District of California
    • November 18, 1998
    ...service [is] effected under [the] Clayton Act § 12[.]" Go-Video, 885 F.2d at 1416 (citing Amtrol, Inc. v. Vent-Rite Valve Corp., 646 F.Supp. 1168, 1172 (D.Mass.1986)). Just as it would be unwise for a court to make its own rule authorizing service of summons, Omni, 484 U.S. at 109, 108......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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