United States District Court, D. Alaska
In re Crash of Aircraft N93PC on July 7, 2013, at Soldotna, Alaska
Russel Holland United States District Judge
to Dismiss; Motion to Continue
Stolairus Aviation Inc. moves to dismiss the claims against
This motion is opposed,  and in the alternative, plaintiffs and
cross-claimant move to continue the motion to dismiss in
order to take jurisdictional discovery. The motion to
continue is opposed. Oral argument was not requested and is not
7, 2013, a deHavilland DHC-3 “Otter” aircraft
operated by Rediske Air, Inc. and piloted by Walter Rediske
crashed shortly after take-off from the Soldotna Airport.
Rediske and all of the passengers on board were killed in the
crash. Rediske's estate and the estates of the passengers
[referred to collectively as “plaintiffs” herein]
assert wrongful death, negligence, products liability and
breach of warranty claims against Stolairus.
allege that in April 2010, “Defendant Recon Air
Corporation ... modified the subject aircraft when it
installed an upgross kit known as Stol Kit STC SA00287NY, a
Baron Stol Kit manufactured by Stolairus Aviation, Inc.
(‘the Stol Kit') on the DHC-3
further allege that in January or February of 2016, the Stol
Kit was the subject of an Airworthiness Directive published
by Transport Canada.” Plaintiffs allege that
“[t]he Airworthiness Directive stated that it was being
issued to correct an unsafe condition for DHC-3 airplanes
that are modified with the Baron Short Take Off and Landing
(STOL) kit....” Plaintiffs allege that
[t]he Airworthiness Directive stated that an investigation of
a fatal crash of a turbo-propeller powered DHC-3 airplane
modified with a Baron STOL kit determined that the probable
cause was a rearward shift in the center of gravity, which
resulted in a stall during takeoff. A center of gravity that
is too far aft can contribute to a stall during takeoff and
may result in loss of control during other phases of
allege that the Stol Kit installed on the subject aircraft
caused the aircraft to crash into the ground. The Stol Kit
changed the center of gravity, making the center of gravity
too far aft and contributed to or caused a stall and or loss
of control of the aircraft. Defendant Stolairus failed to
inspect, identify and warn of the change in the center of
allege that Stolairus is a Canadian corporation with
“its principal place of business” in British
Columbia. Plaintiffs allege that jurisdiction of
Stolairus is appropriate in this court because Stolairus
“provides support for aircraft worldwide, including the
United States and specifically Alaska.”
to Rule 12(b)(2), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Stolairus
now moves to dismiss plaintiffs' claims against it for
lack of personal jurisdiction. In the alterative, pursuant to
Rule 12(b)(6), Stolairus moves to dismiss plaintiffs'
claims against it on the grounds that they are barred by the
statute of limitations.
“[A] court considering a motion relating to
jurisdiction as well as a motion on the merits generally ...
decide[s] the jurisdictional issue first[.]”
Thornhill Pub. Co., Inc. v. General Tel. &
Electronics Corp., 594 F.2d 730, 733-34 (9th Cir. 1979).
Thus, the court considers Stolairus's Rule 12(b)(2)
motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction first.
[a] defendant move[s] to dismiss a complaint for lack of
personal jurisdiction, [the] plaintiffs bear the burden of
demonstrating that jurisdiction is appropriate.”
Dole Food Co., Inc. v. Watts, 303 F.3d 1104, 1108
(9th Cir. 2002). If “the motion is based on written
materials rather than an evidentiary hearing, ‘the
plaintiff need only make a prima facie showing of
jurisdictional facts.'” Id. (quoting
Sher v. Johnson, 911 F.2d 1357, 1361 (9th Cir.
1990)). “In determining whether [a plaintiff has] met
this prima facie burden, uncontroverted allegations in [the]
complaint must be taken as true, and ‘conflicts between
the facts contained in the parties' affidavits must be
resolved in [the plaintiff's] favor....'”
Ochoa v. J.B. Martin and Sons Farms, Inc., 287 F.3d
1182, 1187 (9th Cir. 2002) (quoting Am. Tel. & Tel.
Co. v. Compagnie Bruxelles Lambert, 94 F.3d 586, 588
(9th Cir. 1996)). “Additionally, any evidentiary
materials submitted on the motion ‘are construed in the
light most favorable to the plaintiff and all doubts are
resolved in [the plaintiff's] favor.'”
Id. (quoting Metro. Life Ins. Co. v.
Neaves, 912 F.2d 1062, 1064 n.1 (9th Cir. 1990)).
as here, there is no applicable federal statute governing
personal jurisdiction, the district court applies the law of
the state in which the district court sits.” Dole
Food Co., 303 F.3d at 1110. Alaska's long-arm
statute reaches “to the maximum extent permitted by the
due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment[.]”
Alaska Telecom, Inc. v. Schafer, 888 P.2d 1296, 1299
are two forms that personal jurisdiction may take: general
and specific.” Picot v. Weston, 780 F.3d 1206,
1211 (9th Cir. 2015). Plaintiffs contend that Stolairus could
be subject to both general and specific jurisdiction.
have general jurisdiction over a foreign corporation only if
the corporation's connections to the forum state
‘are so continuous and systematic as to render [it]
essentially at home in the forum State.'”
Williams v. Yamaha Motor Co., 851 F.3d 1015, 1020
(9th Cir. 2017) (quoting Goodyear Dunlop Tires
Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 919 (2011)).
“A corporation's ‘continuous activity of some
sorts within a state is [generally] not enough to support the
demand that the corporation be amenable to suits unrelated to
that activity.'” Id. (quoting
Int'l Shoe Co. v. Wash., 326 U.S. 310, 318
(1945)). “Rather, in the paradigmatic circumstance for
exercising general jurisdiction, the corporate defendant is
incorporated or has its principal place of business in the
forum state.” Id. “Only in an
‘exceptional case' will general jurisdiction be
available anywhere else.” Martinez v. Aero
Caribbean, 764 F.3d 1062, 1070 (9th Cir. 2014) (quoting
Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S.Ct. 746, 761 n.19
is not incorporated in Alaska nor does it have its principal
place of business in Alaska and thus in order for the
court to have general jurisdiction over it, plaintiffs must
show that Stolairus is “at home” in Alaska. In
order to be at home in a forum, a corporation's contacts
with the forum must be “continuous and
systematic.” Ranza v. Nike, Inc., 793 F.3d
1059, 1069 (9th Cir. 2015) (citation omitted). The
corporation must be “heavily engaged in activity
in” the forum. BNSF Ry. Co. v. Tyrrell, 137
S.Ct. 1549, 1559 (2017). For example, in BNSF
Railway, the Court found it was not sufficient that BNSF
had 2000 miles of track and 2000 employees in Montana because
“‘the general jurisdiction inquiry does not focus
solely on the magnitude of the defendant's in-state
contacts. Rather, the inquiry ‘calls for an appraisal
of a corporation's activities in their entirety';
‘[a] corporation that operates in many places can
scarcely be deemed at home in all of them.'”
Id. (quoting Daimler, 134 S.Ct. at 762,
concede that they cannot establish general jurisdiction
without jurisdictional discovery. In their motion to
continue, plaintiffs indicated that they were only seeking to
take jurisdictional discovery in an attempt to establish
specific jurisdiction,  but in their reply brief, they
indicate that they are seeking to take jurisdictional
discovery in an attempt to establish general
“‘[d]iscovery may be appropriately granted where
pertinent facts bearing on the question of jurisdiction are
controverted or where a more satisfactory showing of the
facts is necessary.'” Boschetto v.
Hansing, 539 F.3d 1011, 1020 (9th Cir. 2008) (quoting
Data Disc, Inc. v. Systems Tech. Assoc.,
Inc., 557 F.2d 1280, 1285 n.1 (9th Cir. 1977)). But,
“‘[w]here a plaintiff's claim of personal
jurisdiction appears to be both attenuated and based on bare
allegations in the face of specific denials made by the
defendants, the [c]ourt need not permit even limited
discovery....'” Pebble Beach Co. v. Caddy,
453 F.3d 1151, 1160 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting Terracom v.
Valley Nat'l Bank, 49 F.3d 555, 562 (9th Cir.
1995)). It is not an abuse of discretion for the court to
deny a request for jurisdictional discovery that is
“based on little more than a hunch that it might yield
jurisdictionally relevant facts[.]” Boschetto,
539 F.3d at 1020.
[T]he merits of [a] request for jurisdictional discovery
depends heavily on the information [the plaintiff] has, now,
to support th[e c]ourt's exercise of personal
jurisdiction over the [d]efendants. The more information [the
plaintiff] has, the more plausible personal jurisdiction is,
and the more legitimate the request for limited,
jurisdictional discovery will be. The less information [the
plaintiff] has, however, the more the request looks like a
simple fishing expedition.
NuboNau, Inc. v. NB Labs, Ltd., Case No.
10cv2631-LAB (BGS), 2011 WL 5237566, at *3 (S.D. Cal. Oct.