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Brady v. Southwest Airlines Co.

United States District Court, D. Nevada

July 6, 2015

CHELCEE BRADY, Plaintiff(s),
v.
SOUTHWEST AIRLINES CO., et al., Defendant(s).

ORDER

JAMES C. MAHAN, District Judge.

Presently before the court is defendant Davis Aircraft Products' ("Davis") motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and, alternatively, failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. (Doc. #14). Plaintiff Chelcee Brady filed a response, (doc. #18), and defendant filed a reply, (doc. #21).

I. Background

The instant action arises out of a personal injury suit. Plaintiff allegedly suffered brain trauma while on an airplane from Ontario, California, to Las Vegas, Nevada. On February 24, 2008 plaintiff was a passenger on Southwest Airlines ("Southwest") Flight 2809. (Doc. #1). Davis manufacturers and installs aircraft parts for commercial airlines, including Southwest. ( Id. ).

Plaintiff alleges that during her flight to Las Vegas the airplane experienced severe turbulence. ( Id. ). Plaintiff further claims that during the turbulence, plaintiff's seatbelt fitting failed and separated, causing plaintiff's head to violently strike the overhead storage bin. ( Id. ). Plaintiff asserts that this incident caused her traumatic brain injury. According to plaintiff's complaint, Davis manufactured the incident restraints on the aircraft where plaintiff was allegedly injured. (Doc. ##1, 14).

Plaintiff initiated suit in this court on December 17, 2014, asserting a negligence claim. (Doc. #1). Defendant filed the instant motion to dismiss on May 4, 2015, arguing that the court lacks personal jurisdiction and that plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. (Doc. #14).

II. Legal Standard

a. Motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction

Personal jurisdiction over a defendant is proper when jurisdiction is provided for by law and the exercise of jurisdiction comports with due process. Walden v. Fiore, 134 S.Ct. 1115, 1121 (2014). "Federal courts ordinarily follow state law in determining the bounds of their jurisdiction over persons." Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S.Ct. 746, 753 (2014). Nevada has authorized its courts to exercise jurisdiction over persons "on any basis not inconsistent with... the Constitution of the United States." Nev. Rev. Stat. ยง 14.065.

Due process requires the defendant have at least "minimum contacts" with the forum state so that "maintenance of the suit does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice." Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945). "[T]he defendant's conduct and connection with the forum State [must be] such that he should reasonably anticipate being haled into court there." World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 297 (1980). "[I]t is the defendant, not the plaintiff or third parties, who must create contacts with the forum State." Walden, 134 S.Ct. at 1121.

III. Discussion

a. Motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction

i. General jurisdiction

General jurisdiction is appropriate where a defendant's activities in the forum state are so "substantial" or "continuous and systematic" that the defendant is essentially at home in the forum. Daimler, 134 S.Ct. at 754. "This is an exacting standard, as it should be, because a finding of general jurisdiction permits a defendant to be haled into court in the forum state to answer for any of its ...


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