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Judge Stark denies motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and grants plaintiff leave to conduct jurisdictional discovery regarding Korean defendant

Chief Judge Leonard P. Stark recently considered Defendants motion to dismiss Robert Bosch LLC’s patent infringement claims for lack of personal jurisdiction.  Robert Bosch LLC v. Alberee Products, Inc., et al., C.A. No. 12-574-LPS (D. Del. Sept. 29, 2014).  Two of the three Defendants are Maryland corporations and the third, API, is a Korean corporation.  Id. at 1.  In its complaint, Bosch alleged that API manufactures windshield wiper blade components in Korea and sells them to companies in the United States, including the Maryland Defendants.  Id. at 3.   Bosch further alleged that the Defendants then worked together from Maryland to assemble the wiper blades to market and sell in the United States.  Id.  Plaintiff pointed to no evidence that Defendants have offices, employees, bank accounts, or property in Delaware; travel to or manufacture anything in Delaware; or otherwise have transacted business or directly sold products in Delaware.  Id. at 4.

Bosch did not allege jurisdiction under any one prong of Delaware’s long arm statute, 10 Del. C. § 3104, but that jurisdiction existed “under a ‘dual jurisdiction’ or ‘stream of commerce’ theory.  Id. at 7.  The concept of dual jurisdiction relates to the situation in which a defendant has sufficient general contacts with Delaware and the plaintiff’s claims arise from those contacts.  Id. at 7-8 (citing LaNuova D & B, S.p.A. v. Bowe Co., 513 A.2d 764 (Del. 1986); Wright v. Am. Home Products Corp., 768 A.2d 518 (Del. Super. 2000); Boone v. Oy Partek Ab, 724 A.2d 1150 (Del. Super. 1997)).  Applying the LaNuova, Wright and Boone cases, this Court has held that “‘[t]he dual jurisdiction concept arises from at least partial satisfaction of subsections (1) and (4) of the Delaware long-arm statute . . . . Dual jurisdiction may be established when a manufacturer has sufficient general contacts with Delaware and the plaintiffs’ claims arise out of those contacts.”‘  Id. at 8 (quoting Belden Techs., Inc. v. LS Corp., 829 F. Supp. 2d 260, 267 (D. Del. 2010)).  Jurisdiction would exist if a defendant intended to serve the Delaware market, resulting in a product entering the market; and the plaintiff’s claim arose from injuries caused by this product.  Id. at 8-9.  Judge Stark noted that another Judge in this District recently concluded that the Delaware Supreme Court would not likely “embrace” the theory of dual jurisdiction, Id. at 9., but Judge Stark disagreed finding that “[t]he Delaware Supreme Court has had several opportunities to reject the dual jurisdiction theory but has refrained from doing so.”  Id. at 10-11.

Judge Stark then turned to whether the Defendants here are subject to jurisdiction under the “dual jurisdiction” theory.  Based on Bosch’s allegations, the only question was “whether any or all of Defendants’ actions in placing wiper blades or wiper blade components into the stream of commerce – where those wiper blades and/or wiper blade components end up allegedly causing injury in Delaware (through the sale of the Goodyear Assurance product at Costco) – are sufficient to satisfy the dual jurisdiction theory.”  Id. at 12.  Regarding the Maryland Defendants, Judge Stark found that because they sell the accused wiper blades to nationwide reseller Costco, with locations in Delaware, Defendants “presumptively intend[] to target the Delaware market.”  Id. at 16.  This intent resulted in the introduction of the accused blades in Delaware, and Bosch’s claims arose from injuries caused by those blades.  Id.  Judge Stark also found that a finding of personal jurisdiction comported with Due Process.  Id. at 16-17.  Regarding API, the Korean Defendant, Judge Stark determined that Bosch did not point to any evidence of an agency relationship between API and the Maryland Defendants, nor did Bosch satisfy the requirements of the dual jurisdiction theory.  Id. at 19-20.  Judge Stark did, however, grant Bosch leave to conduct jurisdictional discovery focused on “the relationship among API [and the Maryland Defendants], and the distribution and sale of the accused products in Delaware and throughout the United States.”  Id. at 21-23.

 

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