ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT VOLKSWAGEN AKTIENGESELL SCHAFT'S MOTION TO DISMISS FOR LACK OF PERSONAL JURISDICTION
ROBERT S. LASNIK, District Judge.
This matter comes before the Court on defendant Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. Dkt. # 63. Plaintiffs Matthew and Sylvia Hodjera, a married couple, allege that Mr. Hodjera's mesothelioma was proximately caused by various corporate defendants' manufacture, sale, and/or distribution of asbestos-containing products. Defendant Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft ("VWAG") moves to dismiss, arguing that this Court lacks personal jurisdiction over it. Having reviewed the memoranda, declarations, and exhibits submitted by the parties, the Court grants the motion for the reasons that follow.
According to the complaint, Mr. Hodjera was exposed to asbestos or asbestos-containing products in Toronto, Ontario, between 1986 and 1994. Dkt. # 1-1 at 4. On May 20, 2016, Mr. Hodjera was diagnosed with mesothelioma.
On December 2, 2016, plaintiffs filed suit in King County Superior Court, alleging that Mr. Hodjera's mesothelioma had been proximately caused by the manufacture, sale, and/or distribution of asbestos-containing products by the following defendants: BASF Catalysts LLC; BorgWarner Morse Tec Inc.; Central Precision Limited; Charles B. Chrystal Company, Inc.; Dana Companies, LLC; Dana Canada Corp.; DAP Products, Inc.; Felt Products Mfg. Co.; Honeywell International Inc.; Imerys Talc America, Inc.; Johnson & Johnson; Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc.; Pneumo Abex LLC; Union Carbide Corporation; Vanderbilt Minerals LLC; Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft; Volkswagen Group of Canada; Volkswagen Group of America, Inc.; Whittaker, Clark & Daniels, Inc.; and Does 1-350, inclusive. Dkt. # 1-1 at 2-3. On January 11, 2017, defendant Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. removed the case. Dkt. # 1. Various motions to dismiss are now pending before the Court.
VWAG argues that the complaint fails to allege facts supporting personal jurisdiction over it. VWAG is a publically quoted stock corporation organized under the laws of Germany. Dkt. # 64, ¶ 3. Its principal place of business is located in Wolfsburg, Germany.
Due process requires a district court to have personal jurisdiction over a defendant in order to adjudicate a claim against it.
A. General Jurisdiction
A defendant is subject to a court's general personal jurisdiction when its contacts are "so constant and pervasive as to render it essentially at home" in the forum.
B. Specific Jurisdiction
A defendant may also be sued in a forum where it has minimal contacts, provided those contacts are purposefully directed at the forum, the claim arises out of those contacts, and the exercise of jurisdiction over that party is reasonable.
Plaintiffs argue that Mr. Hodjera's illness was caused by "exposure to asbestos and asbestos-containing products that were mined, manufactured, produced, and/or placed into the stream of commerce by the defendants in this case." Dkt. # 87 at 3. To establish personal jurisdiction over VWAG, plaintiffs argue that VWAG purposefully availed itself of this Washington forum by selling Volkswagen vehicles in Washington state through Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary. Dkt. # 87 at 8. Plaintiffs attach a plea agreement from a criminal case brought by the United States against VWAG in which VWAG admits to implementing business strategies to target the American market. Dkt. # 88-1 at 58. For purposes of the specific jurisdiction analysis, VWAG does not contest that it "purposefully availed" itself of the Washington forum. Dkt. # 96 at 2.
Still, plaintiffs fail to satisfy the second prong of the specific jurisdiction test: the requirement that their claim arise out of the defendant's purposeful contacts with the forum state. According to the complaint, Mr. Hodjera's asbestos exposure occurred in Toronto, Ontario. Dkt. # 1-1 at 4. There is no allegation that Mr. Hodjera's exposure would not have occurred but for VWAG's contacts with Washington.
Instead, plaintiffs argue that the fairness prong of the specific jurisdiction test should be sufficient in this case: "it would be manifestly unfair to this dying plaintiff and his wife to break this case up into multiple claims and require plaintiffs to start over in many different states, and potentially two foreign countries." Dkt. # 87 at 12. While the Court sympathizes with the plaintiffs' circumstances, the Constitution does not permit it to exercise jurisdiction over a particular defendant merely because it would be most fair to the plaintiff.
C. Leave to Amend
Plaintiffs alternatively request leave to amend their complaint. Dkt. # 87 at 12 n.6. "[A] district court should grant leave to amend even if no request to amend the pleading was made, unless it determines that the pleading could not possibly be cured by the allegation of other facts,"
For all the foregoing reasons, VWAG's motion to dismiss, Dkt. # 63, is GRANTED. Plaintiffs' claims against VWAG are dismissed without prejudice. VWAG's motion for a protective order, Dkt. # 103, VWAG's motion to quash plaintiff's notice of deposition, Dkt. # 124, and VWGC's motion for a protective order regarding plaintiffs' second set of requests, Dkt. # 132, are DENIED as moot.