EDUARDO C. ROBRENO, District Judge.
A complaint was filed in the Northern District of Ohio on April 9, 1998 by The Jaques Admiralty Law Firm on behalf of Charles Corley ("Decedent" or "Mr. Corley") to recover for asbestos-related personal injuries. The case was transferred to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on November 1, 2011 as part of the consolidated asbestos products liability multidistrict litigation (MDL 875). Mr. Corley's case was assigned to the Court's 02-875 Maritime Docket (MARDOC). On December 14, 2011, The Jaques Admiralty Law Firm filed a notice of voluntary dismissal as to Mr. Corley's case due to the unavailability of Mr. Corley and his beneficiaries. As a result, Mr. Corley's case was dismissed and marked closed by this Court.
Almost a year later on December 13, 2012, The Law Offices of G. Patterson Keahey filed a Motion for Substitution of Attorney. Concurrently, Mr. Keahey filed a Motion to Substitute Party Plaintiff and to Grant Relief from the Order of Dismissal on behalf of Oscar Allen Corley as the Administrator of the Estate of Charles Corley (hereinafter "Plaintiff").
Now, before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss collectively filed by twenty-two defendants ("Defendants"). Defendants assert that the Court lacks personal jurisdiction over them pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) because Plaintiff's cause of action does not arise out of Defendants' specific contacts with Ohio, and Ohio's long-arm statute does not recognize general jurisdiction. In response, Plaintiff asserts that Defendants are subject to Ohio's long-arm statute. In the alternative, Plaintiff moves the Court for a continuance to conduct jurisdictional discovery and requests leave to amend the complaint after such discovery is complete.
For the reasons that follow, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss will be granted and Plaintiff's Motion for a Continuance and to Amend the Complaint will be denied.
II. LEGAL STANDARD
Motion to Dismiss based on Lack of Personal Jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(2)
In considering a Rule 12(b)(2) motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, "[t]here are specific analytical steps [the Court] must take in determining whether personal jurisdiction can be asserted over a nonresident defendant[,]" and "Rule 4(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is the starting point."
Bartel and Ohio's Long-Arm Statute
Ohio's long-arm statute is not coextensive with the federal Due Process Clause.
The Ohio long-arm statute lists nine categories of contacts with the forum that will create jurisdiction, but only if the cause of action arises from those contacts. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2307.382 (West 2014). Therefore, Ohio does not recognize general jurisdiction.
1. Personal Jurisdiction
Plaintiff asserts that the Court may exercise jurisdiction over Defendants because they transacted business in Ohio. Ohio's long-arm statute states that "[a] court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a person who acts directly or by an agent, as to a cause of action arising from the person's . . . transacting any business in this state." Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2307.382(A)(1) (West 2014).
Plaintiff also attaches evidence to his response specifically pertaining to two of the twenty-two moving defendants. Plaintiff attaches an affidavit of Lawrence Holcomb, an attorney at the firm that represents Plaintiff in this case. Mr. Holcomb states the following:
Pl.'s Resp. 8, ECF No. 26. Plaintiff asserts that he has demonstrated specific personal jurisdiction as to these two defendants because (1) they have personally availed themselves of the privilege of acting in the forum state; (2) the cause of action arose from the defendant's activities in the forum state; and (3) the acts of the defendants or consequences caused by the defendants had a substantial enough connection with the forum state to make the exercise of jurisdiction reasonable.
2. Jurisdictional Discovery
Plaintiff claims that further discovery would reveal contacts by other defendants with Ohio regarding the manufacture, sale, and distribution of asbestos-containing products. Accordingly, Plaintiff requests that the Court enter an order permitting "limited discovery to determine whether certain defendants have had significant contacts with the State of Ohio that would subject them to the specific jurisdiction of Ohio courts." Pl.'s Resp. 10-11, ECF No. 26.
3. Motion to Amend
Plaintiff requests leave to amend his complaint to include jurisdictional allegations, supported by further discovery, about certain defendants' specific activities that caused injury to Decedent. Plaintiff avers that Defendants will not be prejudiced, and the amended pleading will "expound upon and add additional specificity to the claims asserted and arising out of the same acts and conduct that form the basis for the original complaint." Pl.'s Resp. 11, ECF No. 26.
1. Personal Jurisdiction
Defendants assert that Plaintiff misses the mark of
Defendant also notes that the Alabama case already litigated in this Court found that Decedent was a resident of Alabama, that the exposure to asbestos occurred in Alabama or on the high seas, and that the alleged injuries manifested themselves in Alabama. Defendant notes that there was never any connection to Ohio in the Alabama case.
2. Jurisdictional Discovery and Motion to Amend
Defendants state that Plaintiff's request to conduct jurisdictional discovery and file an "amended" pleading based on such discovery should be denied. Defendants assert that the request is nothing more than a fishing expedition.
Plaintiff asserts his claims arise out of Defendants transacting business in Ohio.
Plaintiff's allegations still fail even assuming
Because the defense of lack of personal jurisdiction is raised, Plaintiff bears the burden of showing, by a preponderance of the evidence, the existence of jurisdiction as to each defendant.
Jurisdictional Discovery and Motion to Amend
"If the plaintiff presents factual allegations that suggest `with reasonable particularity' the possible existence of the requisite `contacts between [the party] and the forum state,' the plaintiff's right to conduct jurisdictional discovery should be sustained."
Plaintiff asserts that jurisdictional discovery will uncover further facts to support that Defendants had "significant contacts" with Ohio. Even if Plaintiff can uncover such facts, he still must show that Decedent's injuries arose out of these contacts; facts which Plaintiff should have known prior to filing his complaint in Ohio. Accordingly, Plaintiff is not permitted to undertake a "fishing expedition" under the guise of jurisdictional discovery in order to support his claims sixteen years after the complaint was filed. Id. Plaintiff's request to conduct jurisdictional discovery and amend his complaint must be denied.
For the reasons set forth above, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is granted and Plaintiff's Motion for a Continuance and to Amend the Complaint is denied. An appropriate order follows.