District Court Transfers Case to Florida on Finding That Personal Jurisdiction Could be Based on Italian Company’s Prior Sale of Allegedly Defective Amusement Park Ride to Florida Company

The World in U.S. Courts: Summer and Fall 2016 - Personal Jurisdiction/Forum Non Conveniens/ Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act (FSIA)

Lidey v. Moser’s Rides, S.r.L., U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, May 12, 2016

Plaintiff Lidey brought suit in the Western District of Pennsylvania alleging defective design and manufacture for injuries he sustained while assembling defendant’s amusement park attraction known as the “Spring Ride.” Lidey’s injuries occurred in Pennsylvania. Moser Rides, an Italian company, manufactured the Spring Ride in Italy. The defendant then transported the ride to Jacksonville, Florida, showed the ride at a tradeshow in Orlando, Florida, stored the ride in Riverview, Florida for 3 years, and then sold the ride to a Florida company. The ride was then sold twice before arriving in Pennsylvania.

Moser Rides moved to dismiss the claim for lack of personal jurisdiction.  Lidey conceded that the Court lacked general or specific jurisdiction over the cause of action, hoping to keep his case alive through a transfer to U.S. District Court in Florida.  This required that the Court first find that the personal jurisdiction would attach in Florida.  To analyze whether this was the case, the Court stated that Lidey would be required to show that: (1) Moser Rides purposefully directed its activities at Florida; (2) the litigation arose out of or is related to at least one of those activities; and (3) maintenance of the suit would comport with notions of fair play and substantial justice.

The Court explained that Moser Rides had the requisite contacts with Florida because it “purposefully availed” itself of the privilege of doing business in that State by selling its product to a Florida company.  It was reasonable for Moser Rides to foresee that it would be required to defend itself in Florida in connection with matters relating to that contract.  Thus, Moser Rides was subject to the Florida court’s specific jurisdiction in virtue of Florida’s long arm statute.

The Court denied defendant’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and instead transferred the case to U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

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