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A.T. v. Newark Corp.

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

November 3, 2017

A.T., through her duly appointed guardian DENISE TRAVIS; DENISE TRAVIS and REGINALD TIMOTHY TRAVIS, individually, Plaintiffs,
v.
NEWARK CORPORATION d/b/a ELEMENT 14, GOOD WILL INSTRUMENT CO., LTD., and INSTEK AMERICA CORP., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STEPHEN N. LIMBAUGH, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on defendants Good Will Instrument Co., Ltd. (“Good Will”), and Instek America Corp.'s (“Instek”) motion to dismiss (#51). The matter is fully briefed. This Court lacks jurisdiction over Good Will because it was not properly served. Thus, the claims against Good Will are dismissed. This Court also lacks personal jurisdiction over Instek, and the claims against it will be dismissed.

         I. Background

         Marreo Travis (“the decedent”) was electrocuted while using a Tenma AC Power Source 72-7675, Serial No. 1102310 (“the Product”), at work. As a result, his mother, father, and daughter brought this wrongful death suit. Several companies were involved in manufacturing, buying, and selling the Product before it arrived at the decedent's workplace.

         A. Corporate Structure and Parties

         Good Will is a Taiwanese business entity registered in Taiwan. Its principal place of business is in Taiwan, and it has no offices outside Taiwan.

         Instek-a California corporation-is Good Will's wholly owned subsidiary. Its principal place of business is located in California. Instek is a wholesaler that purchases all its products from its parent company, Good Will.

         Newark Electronics (“Newark”)[1] is an Indiana corporation that has its principal place of business in Illinois. It uses element 14 Asia Pte. Ltd. (a different company) to buy products from Good Will and then resells the products in the United States. Newark is not part of Good Will's corporate family. Newark is a defendant in this case, but it is not a party to this motion to dismiss.

         B. Relevant Facts

         Good Will designed the Product in Taiwan and then manufactured it in China. Next, Good Will sold the Product to element 14, which was doing business for Newark. The sale was finalized in China, and Good Will shipped the Product from China (where title passed to Newark) to South Carolina.

         Instek did not design, manufacture, buy, or sell the Product. It was not involved with any transactions relating to the Product.

         Plaintiffs initially sued only Newark in state court (#3). In their second amended complaint (#40), plaintiffs added Good Will and Instek as defendants. Plaintiffs then delivered a copy of the summons to Instek's headquarters in California. They did not attempt to serve Good Will separately.

         Good Will moves to dismiss on two grounds. First, it argues that it was not properly served under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4. Second, it argues that the Court does not have personal jurisdiction over it because Good Will does not have sufficient minimum contacts with Missouri as required by the Due Process Clause. In response, plaintiffs argue that Good Will was properly served through its agent, Instek. Plaintiffs also claim that this Court has personal jurisdiction over Good Will based on a stream-of-commerce theory.

         Instek argues only that the Court does not have personal jurisdiction over it because Instek does not have sufficient minimum contacts with Missouri as required by the Due Process Clause. Plaintiff responds with the same stream-of-commerce argument.

         II. ...


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