United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division
ALLIED INS. CO. OF AMERICA, as subrogee of Gloss Roots by Escarlate, LLC Plaintiff,
ECOVACS ROBOTICS, INC., Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
STEPHEN N. LIMBAUGH, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Allied Insurance Company of America brought this products
liability lawsuit as subrogee of its insured, Gloss Roots by
Escarlate, LLC, against defendant Ecovacs Robotics, Inc.
claiming strict liability and negligence related to a fire
alleged caused by defendant's EyeVac product. Defendant
has moved to dismiss based on lack of personal jurisdiction
(#7). Plaintiff did not respond to the motion, and the time
for doing so has passed.
to the complaint, Gloss Roots, which operates a hair salon
and retail store in Fredericktown, Missouri, purchased an
EyeVac in October 2017 to use as a robotic vacuum cleaner. On
January 7, 2018, while the EyeVac was not in use, the EyeVac
overheated and caused a fire that damaged Gloss Roots. Gloss
Roots's insurance company, plaintiff Allied, brought this
litigation to recover against the manufacturer of the EyeVac
that value of the claim. Plaintiff alleges that this Court
has diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1332(a)(1) because the parties are citizens of different
states and that damages exceed $75, 000.
acknowledges in the complaint that Ecovacs is a Delaware
corporation with its principal place of business in
California. Plaintiff does not allege any facts regarding the
selling, marketing, advertising, distributing, branding, or
shipping of the EyeVac by Ecovacs in Missouri. Ecovacs filed
the instant motion arguing that this Court should dismiss the
complaint against it because the Court lacks personal
jurisdiction over Ecovacs.
diversity action such as this one, the Court “may
assume jurisdiction over the nonresident defendants only to
the extent permitted by the long-arm statute of the forum
state and by the Due Process Clause.” Romak USA,
Inc. v. Rich, 384 F.3d 979, 984 (8th Cir. 2004).
survive a motion to dismiss for lack of personal
jurisdiction, the non-moving party need only make a prima
facie showing of jurisdiction; that is, the “plaintiff
must state sufficient facts in the complaint to support a
reasonable inference that defendants may be subjected to
jurisdiction in the forum state.” Steinbuch v.
Cutler, 518 F.3d 580, 585 (8th Cir. 2008).
jurisdiction may be either general or specific.
Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California,
San Francisco County, 137 S.Ct. 1773, 1780 (2017)
(“BMS”). The exercise of general
jurisdiction over a corporation may take place where
“the corporation is fairly regarded as at home.”
Id. (quoting Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations,
S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 924 (2011)). “A court
with general jurisdiction may hear any claim against that
defendant, even if all the incidents underlying the claim
occurred in a different State.” Id. Here,
defendant is a Delaware corporation with its principal place
of business in California. Thus, this Court does not have
general jurisdiction over defendant.
jurisdiction is very different. In order for a state court to
exercise specific jurisdiction, ‘the suit' must
‘aris[e] out of or relat[e] to the defendant's
contacts with the forum.'” Id. (quoting
Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S.Ct. 746, 754 (2014)).
“Specific personal jurisdiction can be exercised by a
federal court in a diversity suit only if authorized by the
forum state's long-arm statute and permitted by the Due
Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”
Viasystems, Inc. v. EBM-Papst St. Georgen GmbH & Co.,
KG, 646 F.3d 589, 593 (8th Cir. 2011). The Missouri
Long-Arm Statute provides that jurisdiction extends to
“any cause of action arising from” the
“transaction of business within” or the
“commission of a tortious act” within Missouri.
§ 506.500.1(1), (3) RSMo. The Missouri legislature's
objective in enacting the statute “was to extend the
jurisdiction of the courts of this state over nonresident
defendants to that extent permissible under the Due Process
Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the
United States.” State ex rel. Deere & Co. v.
Pinnell, 454 S.W.2d 889, 892 (Mo. banc 1970). Thus,
critical to the “analysis is whether the exercise of
personal jurisdiction in this case comports with due
process.” Clune v. Alimak AB, 233 F.3d 538,
541 (8th Cir. 2000). The Constitution's Due Process
Clause requires that there be “minimum contacts”
between the nonresident defendant and the forum state
“such that the 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, 315 (1945) (internal quotations omitted).
contends that its contacts with Missouri do not justify
personal jurisdiction in this case. Significantly, plaintiff
did not respond to defendant's motion to dismiss.
Eighth Circuit employs a five-factor test in determining
whether personal jurisdiction exists, giving
“significant weight” to the first three factors:
(1) the nature and quality of defendant's contacts with
Missouri; (2) the quantity of such contacts; (3) the relation
of the cause of action to the contacts; (4) the interest of
Missouri in providing a forum for its residents; and (5) the
convenience of the parties. Romak USA, Inc., 384
F.3d at 984 (quoting Dever v. Hentzen Coatings,
Inc., 380 F.3d 1070, 1073 (8th Cir. 2004)).
baseline for minimum contacts is some act by which the
defendant purposefully avails itself of the privilege of
conducting activities within the forum State, thus invoking
the benefits and protections of its laws.”
Clune, 233 F.3d at 542 (internal quotation omitted).
Defendant's contact with Missouri must be such that it
“should reasonable anticipate being haled into court
there.” World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v.
Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 297 (1980). Plaintiff alleges
that defendant engaged in the business of selling, marketing,
advertising, distributing, branding and shipping robotic
vacuum cleaners, and that defendant placed the EyeVac into
the stream of commerce.
argues that it cannot have reasonably anticipated being haled
into a Missouri court because the lawsuit does not arise out
of or relate to the contacts Ecovacs had in Missouri.
Defendant denies that the Eye Vac is even a product of
Ecovacs. Rather, defendant states in its memorandum that
Ecovacs's products are the DEEBOT and the WINBOT.
Although plaintiff does not refute that point, having not
responded to the motion at all, the Court notes that the
plaintiff's mere allegation that that defendant put the
Eye Vac into the stream of commerce is not sufficient to
support specific jurisdiction. This Court recently rejected
such a “stream of commerce” theory in the wake ...