ZK Result – Attorneys Aaron Weiss and Jeffrey Ramaley Dismiss Pennsylvania Federal Court Case against Client from California for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction
(Western District, PA) (January 2020). Zimmer Kunz attorneys Aaron Weiss and Jeffrey Ramaley recently obtained a Dismissal in favor of a California client for a lawsuit filed in Pennsylvania over an alleged breach of a contract for goods and services for a construction project in Stockton, California.
After suit was initially filed in Washington County, Zimmer Kunz removed the case to Federal Court and argued that Pennsylvania lacked jurisdiction because the Defendant had no prior contacts to Pennsylvania, the contract was formed in California, all work was performed in California, and even the alleged breach occurred in California. In fact, the only connection to Pennsylvania was the fact that Plaintiff was a Pennsylvania corporation.
Plaintiff challenged this lack of jurisdiction argument and also argued that Defendant’s removal to Federal Court was untimely because it had sent a courtesy copy of the Complaint to Defendant’s California Counsel.
Judge Marilyn J. Horan authored an Opinion and Order on January 2, 2020 in which she held that (1) the removal to Federal Court was timely, and (2) the court lacked jurisdiction over the Defendant. With regard to the timeliness issue, Judge Horan noted that the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure require a party to consent to receive pleadings via e‑mail. California counsel neither consented to service, nor formally entered his appearance on behalf of the Defendant in the Pennsylvania lawsuit. Thus, Plaintiff’s e‑mailing a copy of the Complaint was ineffective service. With regard to the jurisdictional issue, Judge Horan found that specific jurisdiction did not exist because (1) the Defendant did not direct its activities at Pennsylvania, (2) Plaintiff reached out to the Defendant to perform work that was limited to California, and (3) all conduct associated with the alleged breach of contract occurred in California.
The docket for this case is available at J.B.S. Cranes & Accessories, Inc. v. All-Cal Equipment Services, Inc., 2:19-cv-00729-MJH (W.D. Pa. Jan. 2, 2020). Anyone wishing to obtain a copy of the Memorandum Opinion and Order can contact attorney Aaron Weiss at Weiss@zklaw.com